While it might seem pretty obvious that a simple trek in the forest or up your local hill can cleanse your body, mind and soul. Science now has it that, hiking can actually change your brain, and here’s the catch, FOR BETTER!
What do you feel the first time you take a stroll into the forest? There’s definitely an instant feeling of contentment and calm. We are all going through hurdles in life; it could be your job, relationship with friends, family or a significant other, which more often than not is consumed by negative thoughts. These thoughts are known to take the enjoyment of the moment leading us to a downward spiral path to anxiety and depression at worst.
Recent studies suggest that spending time in nature does in fact decrease these negative feelings by a significant margin. Researchers also discovered that constantly staying in an urbanized location closely increases the instances of depression and other related mental illnesses. Imagine your morning, heading to the bus stop then…Beba, Beba, Beba, then sitting in Traffic (loud music) for close to 2 hours for a 10Km stretch, Then the boss is on your neck for a report misspelling, then back to the bus stop, then the 2 hours (loud music), then home at 7pm, then doze off the couch with a dinner plate in your hands, then go to bed at 11pm after reviewing the misspelled report, then up at 5…well, then. It is a cycle isn’t it, for like the remainder of your life. Oh…then the weekend. So do you have to spend them sleeping through hangovers and drowning yourself in your week’s misfortunes? I don’t think so. Call a friend who knows a friend with another friend and take a walk in a nearby forest (Or some trees for that matter, for some of our urban setups, Uhuru Park, Jivanjee Gardens or even Karura forest), Watch the birds fly around, crickets, if any, chirping in the bush near you. Just experience the calming effects of nature! Relax your mind and watch it work its magic.
When outside and experiencing nature, you develop some sense of open mindedness, you are able to capture and see things from a totally different perspective. And if you are with a team, then you get to experience different cultures, and instead of being a critic and rigid in thinking, you start to embrace the diversity that the world offers through different people. You are able to bypass petty issues and lean minds such as racism and tribalism and all the negative …isms that are out there.
And at the end of a hike or a nature walk, though tired, the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment is just priceless. A goal was set a goal was achieved. How about that!
We all know that exercising regularly is good for your overall well-being. Well, ‘nature walking’, if I may, is one of the best ways of burning between 400-700 calories per hour (stunned by the figure? Then it’s probably time you complimented your gym membership with a hiking trip). It’s also been proven that people who hike or practice outdoor activities are more likely to stick at their programs, talk of commitments huh, making hiking an excellent choice for a regular exercising routine. Researchers from the University of British Columbia also found out that hiking and outdoor exercise not only reduces memory loss, but helps prevent it, know those old mamas who can tell you stories of how when they were young they used to…well, that could be you. People who practice outdoor exercising have lower stress levels, and anxiety, they have a higher self-esteem, and release endorphins. All these, Brain related. Well, we all know you could reduce all these symptoms by simply taking prescription medication, personally I hate popping pills, but, you decide! However, the solutions to these symptoms might be a lot easier than you think.