To any outdoor enthusiast, the feeling of being ‘caged up’ is a difficult one. But what happens when you feel like your mental health depends on it? I have suffered from depression and anxiety since I can remember; over the last few years’ medication has helped me control a lot of my anxiety, but so has the outdoors!
The silence phenomenon
I’m not sure if this is the same for all hikers, but all the noise, questioning, billeting that goes on inside your own head falls completely silent when you take that first step. Some people go walking because it gives them time to think – but it allows me not to think at all, I don’t need to. My concern is not falling over the rocky terrain, looking at the scenery around me, realising that not everything is all that bad, and some of the time looking at the map thinking ‘where the hell am I, I’m sure my map was pointing north when I took that bearing’ (because I’ve clearly never made that mistake).
Being at home, the noise comes back and there’s not much escape, you question everything until you’ve questioned everything 100 times and still come to no conclusion. My motivation to do anything at all also goes down the pan, soon I can’t be bothered to do exercise, play a game, read a book or even watch TV because it all seems like too much effort.
Keeping your mind active
I get bored, really bored, I constantly need something new to do – I’m like a bloody child sometimes, which is why being stuck in, is also a nightmare for me. Forcing yourself to do things is probably one of the biggest challenges (at least that’s true for me). Part of the motivation for this blog was just to keep my mind active. I have looked through old hiking pictures, reminisced on the good memories and thought of walks I must go back and do again. Watching outdoor documentaries has also been great for helping me look forward and think of trips I want to do when this is all over!
Taking advantage of your daily walk allowance is also important. Something I should take my own advice on.
Releasing your inner child
Yes, I did make a ‘den’ in my garden with a tarp and some poles, each day it went through a series of upgrades and it became my own personal reading/watching crap on TV space. Don’t have a garden, make one in the living room – trust me no one is judging you. My neighbours are only annoyed that their 6-year-old is now pestering them to take her camping. I’ve slept in the garden half a dozen times already, it helps me relax and if it helps my mental health I don’t really care what the neighbours think, I just own it!
Take your daily walks; force yourself to get motivated about something, even if it’s looking at old pictures, making a list of all the peaks you’ve walked just to see how many you’ve done. Talking to people is also important – if you know you can get yourself into a rut before you get there, tell a friend or someone you live with to check you have been doing something and give them permission to give you a rollicking if you don’t!