Mental Health, Spiritual Growth, Mother Nature
Hiking Myself Happy
“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” Sir Edmund Hillary
Hiking Myself Happy
At the start of the year, I began a walking challenge and in this article, I want to show you behind the scenes of starting a challenge like this to help me cope with anxiety…….while struggling with anxiety!
How it started
Inside the January edition of Country Walking Magazine, I read stories of people who had previously completed the challenge to walk 1000 miles in a year.
They talked about the benefits they experienced to both their physical and mental health including:
When I started I was 15st 4lb and walking three miles was hard work. Now I am weighing in at 11st 7lb and yesterday completed 21 miles with ease. Walking is the best medicine there is
I’ve grown in confidence with each mile
I feel happiest when I’m out walking with my family, not on the sofa! Best challenge I’ve ever done
I looked at photos of the happy faces and gorgeous landscapes and decided I wanted to feel and see that too!
I Was Once a Happy Hiker
Hiking has always been my thing. I’ve done a lot of challenges over the years with my greatest and final challenge being Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. That was about 8 years ago, and although I promised myself many adventures after Kili, they never transpired.
I realise I don’t look too happy in the below photo but altitude sickness meant I struggled to smile on the outside but believe me I was smiling on the inside all the way.
I Started a Business
After Kilimanjaro, I started my own business as a Virtual Assistant and worked, and worked and worked, often for very little reward.
Gradually the business grew into something great and then I made the decision to change all of that and follow my passion for art and spiritual growth and The Magickal Creatrix was born.
Although the Magickal Creatrix was a new business I already knew a lot about being an online business owner so I wasn’t starting from scratch but it did still require a lot of work. So I worked, and I worked and I worked.
For many years I put my business before everything else.
Before the Pandemic
The year before the start of the pandemic was my best year in my business and my plan for growth and success was huge and exciting.
Then the world got turned upside down and inside out and my business growth plans were put on hold and I was kicked into survival mode.
Eventually, I had to let go of my Virtual Assistant support, my Business Coach and most of my exciting ideas as I scaled everything back to the minimum required to just stay afloat.
At this time, mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t capable of pushing to make money and all of a sudden the work required just to stand still was harder than it had ever been.
The choice I made to peel back my business to the bare minimum was the right one to make but it didn’t stop me from feeling utterly miserable and worthless about it. In fact, I’ve spent the last 12 months beating myself up with a big fat failure stick!
The past 12 months have been the loneliest and toughest in my 8 years of being an online business owner.
There Was Nothing Left!
After scaling back my business to make riding the storm bearable I looked around and realised there was nothing left.
- No regular hobbies
- No passions
- No interests
- No excitement
- No fun
- No purpose
My business has been my hobby, passion, interest, excitement and purpose for so many years. But it has also been my obsession and my addiction meaning that there wasn’t room for anything else.
Back to Hiking Myself Happy
The Walk 1000 Miles challenge seemed like the perfect way to rediscover these aspects of my life at a time when life had become restricted and limited.
I began in January. Cold, wet, windy, snowy January. The weather meant my walks were shorter due to the thick mud in my local area making hiking hard work.
I could have taken my walks to the footpaths and streets but I knew I needed countryside and bridleways if this was going to work for me.
The 1000 mile challenge for me, isn’t about walking for the sake of it, but walking because I love it.
The 1000 Mile Challenge Broken Down
To complete 1000 miles in a year I need to walk:
- 93.3 miles per month
- which is 19.23 miles per week
- or 2.73 miles per day
I made the decision to only count walks over 2 miles to encourage me to head out for longer walks which have a greater benefit to mental health and fitness. In fact, there is a lot of evidence talking about the health benefits of walking 30 minutes per day.
My Current Stats
- January – 48.61 Miles
- February – 82.77 Miles
- March – 48.57 Miles
- April – ongoing
As you can see from the stats I’m struggling to meet the minimum set targets each month but I remind myself that this challenge is a yearly target so I’m playing the long game.
Plus I’ve got good reasons for struggling right now including:
- The weather
- Mental Health
- Physical Health
I think it’s important to address the issue of motivation, don’t you?
Since the pandemic, my motivation is all over the place.
It ebbs and flows quite significantly in all areas of my life.
Social distancing, ban on travel and stay local rules have all meant that I walk alone so I only have myself to answer to.
When I say alone, I’m not completely alone, I have my hike buddy Matilda, my 3-year-old Labrador.
I’m so grateful for her company as without her I may not have left the house at all!
Spring is Here!
As we entered into Spring my hopes were high for warmer and dryer weather, the ability to hike further and some well-needed motivation to get outside more.
However, Spring was clearly still in lockdown longer than we were and its later arrival meant it was very cold and wet. Then I got ill (not COVID) for 10 days which set me back mentally and physically.
These things became real challenges for me as my anxiety continued to build and the big failure stick I was beating myself with got bigger too!
New Energy with Mini-Challenges
I’m now fully committed to the challenge again and I’m setting mini-challenges within the challenge to help with my motivation.
We are now allowed to travel which means I can hike to new places and see new views yay!
My mini-challenges include:
- The Daily(ish) Climb – Walking up a steep hill when I take Matilda for her evening walk
- Weekly Big Hike – Scheduling hikes in my calendar to make them none-negotiable
- Exploring – Going down bridleways and paths I’ve never been down before
Hiking Makes Me Happy
Even on my most challenging days, walking makes me happier.
Getting my body moving, being out in nature, giving myself space and time, all benefit me greatly.
I try to remember this on difficult days when I don’t want to leave the house.
Even in these few short and challenging months, I’ve seen some amazing things which have made me smile
I wanted to share this article with you because I’m not just an online business owner who shows up each day talking about astrology and creating art.
I’m human and I’ve struggled and I’m still struggling with the impact of the pandemic.
Every one of us is feeling something, and these feelings are justified and okay.
I hope reading this helps you to get outside more, to start again after each setback and to just keep going even through the tough times because what we are going through right now is temporary and the world needs all of us to be the best versions of ourselves as we heal on a global level.
I would love to know if hiking is something that makes you happy or if you’ve perhaps started walking more during the pandemic to help with your mental health.
Let me know in the comments below or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org as I would love to hear from you.