HOW HIKING CHANGED MY LIFE

In an age where the term “anxiety” is loosely used, it seems as though everyone has anxiety. Experience some trauma, add-in some stress, and you may start to unknowingly develop anxiety. If you don’t realize you have it, you are either in total denial or blissfully ignorant . . . and that’s ok. Just pray for the rest of us who have to be around you. Once you realize you have anxiety, you either own it or deny it. For many, the decision to discuss the elephant in the room is a matter of individual pride. There are those who glorify having anxiety and some who pretend it doesn’t exist.

It seems the term has been deemed other names and taken many forms throughout history. Surely some good things can be attributed to the inner workings of anxiety. After all, some underlying anxiety can really work like Adderal. But for many, it can be crippling.

Until I moved to Colorado, I think I was blissfully ignorant of having anxiety. I was under a lot of stress between a relationship, college, work, and finances. A few traumatic events with the already underlying stress, pushed me over the edge. I was a mess and I think I went temporarily crazy. I literally remember thinking a helicopter was going to chase me when I stepped outside. I thought I was moments away from being locked-up. I believed everyone was out to get me. Because I couldn’t admit any of these paranoid feelings, I kept myself busy through excessive workouts, tedious cleaning, baking, and any other distractions I could find. I obsessed over little, irrelevant things. I sometimes over ate, which was then followed by additional workouts. And as a typical college student, I partied.

I felt like one of those trees on the mountain. I was amongst billions of other trees.

When I moved to Colorado, I was a wreck. Like a wannabe Coloradan native, I went for my first hike a few days after the move. Still staring at the sky and watching every car that parked, I began my walk from the trailhead. All of the military aircrafts flying over the mountain range made me uneasy. But then began to focus my vision on all of the details along the hillside. I honed in on one single tree and then shifted by gaze to the broader picture of all of the trees. I suddenly felt very small. I started to really think about the big picture. I felt like one of those trees on the mountain. I was amongst billions of other trees. My problems suddenly seemed so small. Several hours passed on my hike and if it wasn’t for the sun setting, I would have never walked back to the car. That hike washed every thought out of my brain. I forgot about everything to include what I didn’t eat for breakfast and lunch.

That common saying, “Into the forest I go, to lose my find and find my soul.” holds so much meaning for so many people to include me. When I see others struggling with anxiety or stress, my first solution for them is to go for a hike. While my anxiety comes and goes, I now know ways I can combat it and re-direct my thoughts and emotions.

that hike washed every thought out of my brain.

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