By: Emily Benito

Photo by Emily Benito

There is significant turmoil in the world today. If you’re anything like a normal human being, you’re overwhelmed, nervous, stressed out. How do you relax? 

Hiking. That’s how you can de-stress. Let’s start this off with a reason to get out and hike: we have a vast world of nature to explore and be grateful for. We have many National Parks and forests. We should be experiencing these wonders. The great outdoors of your neighborhood is perfect too if you have good places to walk! Enjoying nature will lead to preserving it for ourselves and for generations to come. Who wouldn’t want to see the giant redwoods of California, or the vast plains in Montana? What about the tall mountains in Utah and the running water of Niagara Falls? Well the only way you’re going to do it is by pausing the season you’re about to watch on Netflix and getting your bum outside. 

Hiking is the perfect way to get out of your head and into your life. It is a way to disconnect from Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, which we all know we are addicted to. Here’s the good thing: the worries of the world melt away when you’re surrounded by trees. Stressful thoughts wash away at the sound of a creek or stream. Sydney Voss, an avid outdoors woman and college student, says that it is important to find a way to unplug and be alone. She advises people during this time of change, “Think about places you wouldn’t normally think about going to. It’s important to find a way to get outside.” 

Photo by Emily Benito

Hiking is a great activity because you can get somewhere where people can’t reach you. Humans are social creatures, but sometimes we have to disconnect. We need to recharge and chill out. Hiking, walking, running, surfing or swimming are brilliant activities for this! It gives you time to think and ponder. It is time to completely ignore the problems in your world and experience something else. Seeing nature and what is right in front of you seems like an easy task, but many of us choose not to do it. 

“Start small and you’ll probably feel some benefits from that,” Voss said. “I would not have been able to handle this [pandemic] if I didn’t have the outlet of going to the beach.” 

We read books about adventures, right? The Hobbit, for example, has a huge following. It is about adventure and pushing your limits. We love these books because they show perseverance and help us imagine a complete and utterly different world than we are used to living in. Huge mountains and vast forests, beautiful streams and endless meadows. I promise you that if you get outside and go for a hike, you will see landscapes akin to those in the novels. It just takes getting outside to go on your own adventure. Crazy, right? You could be the next Bilbo Baggins! 

As well as clearing the mind and embarking on adventures of your own, hiking is good for the body. Physical health is tied to mental health. Hiking in the outdoors brings fresh air into your lungs. Hiking is also linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and builds strength throughout your body. 

Humans are meant to be out in nature. It is our natural instinct to adapt and enjoy the outdoors. 

“Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety,” Gregory A. Miller, president of the American Hiking Society, said. “Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that.”

Hiking isn’t the only way to get out in nature. Running on trails is another great way to boost the health of your body and mind. Getting into a zone while running on the trails is euphoric. It is calm, and even if you are with a partner, it’s relaxing to be outdoors. 

Photo by Emily Benito

Getting outside for a walk is another way to clear your mind. Lauren Buehler, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, says that in her neighborhood in Fulshear, Texas, she likes to get out and walk. 

“If we are struggling inside we all decide to take a break and go on a walk,” she said. Being stuck inside with family can be stressful. You know you love them, but sometimes it can be overwhelming. Buelher says she has bonded closer with her friends and family by putting away their phones and getting outside. It may sound boring, but they find ways to make it something to look forward to, like running to Starbucks or walking to a snow cone place. Talk about rewards right? Getting outside has bonded her closer to her friends and family. They bonded because they put their phones down and actually talked. Her advice during this life-changing time is,  “It’s good to go outside and get some vitamin D from the sun.”