Self-Care Strategy: Hiking
You’ve heard me talk about self-care over and over again in multiple blog posts. By now, you are probably aware of how important it is to set aside time in your daily routine to consciously focus on taking care of you. We all lead busy lives and, as a result, it is easy to push our own needs, wants, and desires to the bottom of our to-do list. The problem with this is that when we are no longer prioritizing ourselves, we can’t commit to bringing our best self when we approach other tasks on our list.
You know I’m a therapist. But, that doesn’t mean I’m immune to stress. I, like many of you, struggle to maintain a regular self-care routine. That being said, I try to keep myself accountable to practice simple self-care strategies on a regular basis. One of my goals for 2018 was to share these strategies with you once a month. Last month, we talked about Yoga with Adriene (if you missed it, you can catch up here). This month, we’re taking our self-care outside.
On my first visit to Las Vegas, I took a day trip to Red Rock Canyon and was absolutely blown away by the beauty around me. I spent about five hours wandering around the natural beauty, exploring my surroundings like I had landed on a new planet. And, in a way, I did. Growing up in the Midwest, I had never seen mountains like this before. I felt like a child seeing the world for the first time, fascinated by the colors, textures, and seemingly endless landscape to explore.
The awe and curiosity that that first visit awakened in me grew stronger when I finally moved here in 2016. Since then, I have made it a routine to get out of my house and actually explore the land around me. It is truly incredible to live in a place that provides so many opportunities for adventure.
When I am on a mountain, anything that I’ve been worrying about or carrying with me seems to just fall away. I know it will be there again when I leave the trail, but hiking gives me the opportunity to take a break from those pesky thoughts that find their way into my brain and truly appreciate and enjoy what I have in the moment.
Last fall, I wrote an article outlining the 8 life lessons I’ve learned from hiking (read it here). All of the lessons I talked about in that article still hold true. In the past five months, I’ve discovered four more lessons that can translate both on and off the trails.
1. Listen to your body
Your body contains so much information and knowledge and, as humans, we are accustomed to tune it out. Start listening. We’ve been told from a young age that pain is good… no pain, no gain, right? Wrong. If your body is telling to slow down, pay attention to it. You may hurt yourself by moving too fast or pushing yourself too hard.
2. Enjoy the journey
The destination will always be there, no matter how slow you go. There is no need to rush through life. Stop and enjoy what life feels like in the present moment. Don’t allow yourself to get so focused on the outcome that you aren’t enjoying what’s happening right now. We all know that the present is a gift – that’s why they call it the present. Imagine how different our lives would be if we allowed ourselves the time and freedom to actually enjoy that gift.
3. During rough patches (or, really, any time) focus on the next few steps
Focusing on long-term goals can be great, but it can also feel very overwhelming and prevent any forward movement for those of us who have a tendency towards perfectionism. “If I can’t do it right, I’m not going to do anything at all.” In these moments, we will benefit immensely from looking at what is right in front of us. Focus on the next few steps, you’ll figure out what to do after that when you get there.
4. Don’t let yourself stop moving just because you’ve lost sight of the summit
When you’re climbing a mountain, you know that the summit is at the top. But, depending on where you are at, it may not be visible to you at all times. However, you trust that as long as you are moving up, you’ll get there eventually. So, how come we don’t have this same level of trust in life? I have found myself feeling stuck or stagnant in so many different situations and I just haven’t made any movement. No forward movement, no backward movement, just remained where I was (unhappy, but comfortable), because I wasn’t sure if I was on the right path. Why live life like this? Take some calculated risks. Make a move. I now know that as long as I am moving, I am changing and growing as a person. Each new experience will help to define me further down the road. And, eventually, I’ll get to my goals (either my old ones or new ones I’ve developed along the way).
As with any self-care strategy, take what works for you and leave the rest. No hard feelings! If you have any ideas or feedback on self-care strategies you’ve found that work for you, please feel free to send me an e-mail and let me know! I’m happy to feature any techniques that you have found to be helpful.
If you’re even remotely curious about hiking, I invite you to join me at the Whitney Mesa trail head off of Sunset Rd in Henderson at 9 AM on Saturday, February 24th for the first Let That $#!t Go! hike of the season. We will start with a brief introduction to self-care at the trail head and proceed on a relatively easy 2.8 mile hike, with others who are trying to more consciously focus on their own self-care. For more information, check out the events page of my website.
If you’re ready to take your recovery journey to the next level, feel free to contact me for a free phone consultation to learn how I might be able to help. See you on the trails!