Can climbing a mountain improve my mental health? In modern day society its common to be connected online 24/7. Sharing our triumphant moments and failures, the pressure to succeed and be seen to be doing well is increasing. It could be passing an exam at school, delivering a critical piece of work for your company or just getting out of bed in the morning. Every day life situations can build up pressure and become over whelming.
Problems with mental health can build up over a period of time so that you don’t even notice it until its too late. You start feeling ill in the morning or late at night and maybe even suffering from panic attacks during the day. Horrible events where you can barely breathe, focus or blend in. These may occur during the seemingly simplest of situations, riding a bus to work or waiting in a queue at the supermarket check out.
Try a new solution
Mental illness in a variety of forms is a sadly increasing threat to our health and quality of life. As people begin to interact less in person and stay in doors, it can form a catalyst for an increase in symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Luckily that is where the mountains can help.
I don’t claim to be an expert but here are some suggestions that might help you improve your situation and also some books and techniques I find useful. Your symptoms won’t go away over night but you can work on managing them as best as possible and recognising what they are. If you are feeling low please talk it through with someone close to you or get in touch with a health professional in your area immediately. It is always best to talk about it, if unsure use the links at the bottom of this article.
How can the mountains help?
- Depression – exercise in any form can help treat symptoms of depression and stress. Keeping a regular schedule will also give you something to focus on, look forward to and take your mind off negative thoughts.
- Anxiety – by exercising you help to release endorphin into the body. This will help to enhance your mood and also distract you from any worries going on around you, giving you a more positive outlook.
- ADHD – regular exercise will aid the increase of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels naturally in your body. This will help to increase your ability to concentrate and focus without the use of medication.
Why are the mountains good for mental health?
Going outdoors and exploring the mountains are perfect for mental health as it combines a number of points I have mentioned earlier together in one package. It doesn’t matter if you don’t reach the top of a summit or don’t feel fit enough to go far, just try to get out there as often as possible and you will see the benefits for yourself. I can really recommend the benefits from my own experience.
Have a strategy to succeed!
- Plan it – route planning and preparation will help take your mind off negative thoughts and give you something positive to look forward to, whether it be in a week or a months time. The fact is you will have light at the end of the tunnel.
- Do it – the most important thing is to get outdoors and do something. The sooner you do, the sooner you will start to feel the benefits of a change in lifestyle. Try to arrange regular trips, small at first until you increase your confidence and experience. If you are in the United Kingdom click here or here for some other articles on possible locations and routes. Getting outside and reconnecting with nature will clear your head, let you concentrate solely on whats going around you in the immediate present and forget about anything that has been bothering you. You will find problems don’t look so big when you are way up high in the mountains.
- Record it – keeping a journal or any kind of record about your trip is a great way to log your achievements, give you something positive to refer to when you are starting to feel low and also continue to distract you from any worries going on in your head. Why not treat yourself to a nice one from Amazon like this?
- Socialize – join a walking club, climbing or outdoors group. If aren’t sure where to look try the meetup app available on IOS or Android and search your for your local area. Helping to connect with others will increase your mood and also your mountain experience so you can grow and learn new skills. Don’t worry about not fitting in, many people have or are experiencing the same problems you are and they will be friendly.
Looking for more tips?
If you can’t make it out during the week or at work, there are alternative options you can try. I recommend trying out mindfulness as another possible solution. It involves a collection of simple natural techniques that will help you to concentrate in the present moment, let go of any worries and train yourself to relax.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well it is! Many work places and community groups are starting to see the benefits of mindfulness techniques so check in your local area if you are interested or pickup a beginners guide. It can start as simply as concentrating on your breathing and clearing your head of dangerous all consuming thoughts. Give it a try.
I hope that has given you some suggestions about how to increase your mental health and well being. Is there anything you would recommend? I would love to hear about it in the comments. Remember if you are feeling low please talk it through with someone close to you or get in touch with a health professional in your area immediately. It is always best to talk about it.
Links to Samaritans in the United Kingdom and Befrienders worldwide are here.