Hiking as Self-Care: How to Work It Into Life

If you live with even one foot in the mainstream world, you probably have one or more of these to keep you busy: a job, kids, a significant other, friendships to maintain, aging parents to care for, adorable yet needy pets, house projects, bills to pay, fill in your own never ending tasks here: __________.

While I like to think that “being busy” is going out of style, most of us just can’t up and go frolic in the woods at the drop of a hat. I get that. But here’s a little secret: Chances are you’ve already heard this one, but lean way in anyways, and take this to heart: you can’t fill others’ cups unless your own is full first. I’m not talking about half-full, or even a centimeter-from-the-brim-full. That cup needs to be bubbling-over-the-top-full if you want extra to give to others. And since you’re here, you already know that hiking can be one glorious way to fill that cup. Yet, as with all methods of self-care, it is so much easier said than done. Here are some tidbits to consider if you wish to make hiking a regular self-care staple rather than a back burner desire.

Prioritize and Minimize

Remember where we talked about the commitments that keep us busy? If you are serious about leveling up your hiking game, something’s gotta go. And it may surprise you what can go once the importance of self-care is realized. Consider moving weekly coffee with Debra to monthly, and reevaluate if 5-year-old Suzy really needs to be in gymnastics three times per week. This is not blowing people off or depriving your children. This is giving yourself the ability to fill your cup, and let’s recap what happens when your cup is bubbling over: You will have exponentially more energy and presence to give to others. A little bit of self-care goes a long way, and your loved ones will start to see the positive changes in you. You will be 100% present during now-monthly coffee with Debra, and you will watch Suzy do her somersaults on her mat at home with even more joy than you got from watching her at the stuffy gym.

 

Evaluate Yourself, and Be Realistic

Okay, so you grew some, er, courage, and are determined to make hiking a bigger priority in your life. Welcome to the bright side! Now it’s time to be realistic about your hiking goals and frequency. You’ve shuffled around your schedule enough to free up regular blocks of time, but of course not all commitments can be eliminated. The good news? Whether you decide to hike daily, weekly, or monthly, and whether you decide to hike on wooded gravel trails or way up in the rugged mountains, you’re still a hiker no matter what. There’s no right or wrong frequency, distance, or terrain. The key to continually reap the benefits of hiking is to know how much is enough to fill your own cup and stick with it

 

Plan

Once you plan a hike, don’t just pencil it in. Grab the fattest Sharpie you can find and mark up that calendar square like whoa! Tell your family and friends about it verbally so they know that you are set on it. Advanced technique: talk to loved ones about your planned hike for days on end leading up to your hikes, because they will be pushing you out the door on Hike Days just so you’ll finally shut up about it. Think of your hiking plans as nonnegotiable, even if you’re hiking solo – the worst person to cancel self-care plans on is yourself. 

 

Grab Some Support

This can make all of the difference as to whether or not you maintain your hiking goals. This can be a hiking buddy who is just as committed as you, a significant other or sitter who is willing to hold down the home front while you gallivant around the trails, or a trail dog because….. trail dogs <3 And if you lack all forms of hiking support in your offline world, welcome to Trail to Summit. We gotcha covered in the online hiking support community.

 

Take Action!

Set out your gear the night before, get a good night’s rest, and enjoy the boundless rewards of using hiking as a routine self-care activity. 

Still aren’t sure? If you’re struggling to get started, remember hiking is more mental than anything!

Are you creating a new schedule that involves self-care? Let us know by leaving a comment. We’d love to hear your story!

Join the discussion