Hiking Solo As Therapy. Hit the Trails, Introverts!
Living in the extroverted world
It’s an extrovert world, no way to hide it.
People surround us from everywhere. Employers require "people skills" and "team playing" as absolutely necessary and many office spaces look more like huge human beehives than cozy, quiet thinking spaces.
Many introverts have to compromise – they deal with people whole day, chatting, smiling and networking. They go back home drained of energy and only dream about a quiet evening with a book or favorite tv show.
My job - my kryptonite
Do you feel like that sometimes?
I know I do.
I am a school teacher. This is not a dream job for an introvert!
But what am I supposed to do? I like teaching!
It’s just that I need a lot of me-time after to recover. After a whole week of loud and noisy kids-filled days, my weekends are often really quiet.
I bury myself deep inside my concrete cave to find a respite from all the humans. But it does not seem enough. Thoughts are still preoccupied with work stuff, stress is still all present.
The remedy: hiking solo
And here enters the antidote: longer treks alone.
Simple and miraculous at the same time.
It cannot be just a few short hours in a park, that’s not enough. The research shows that any vacation should be at least two weeks long because that’s the minimum length for our mind to truly rest.
For the first days of any vacation our bodies might be hiking or swimming – but our minds are still behind our desks at work. It takes time for our mind to deal with old issues and slowly relax.
I found it true when I was hiking in Scotland for a month last summer. The first week or so I was still nervous, ruminating on old problems and issues.
Then slowly all that was done and worked through so my mind could finally relax. There is no way for us to speed up this process, it has to happen organically.
There is room for other people, too!
Hiking alone brings me tranquility and happiness.
It causes my mind to unwind, which is very rare and difficult for its anxious nature.
I have noticed that even my contacts with people were more relaxed after walking solo for 8+ hours a day it was not a nuisance anymore and it was even a pleasure! I could decide if I was up to talking with fellow hikers or not.
No need to do anything I wasn’t up to.
At work very often I have to get into conversations I have no pleasure from.
Those are the difficult and stressful talks with students going through hard times or with their parents. I hardly have the time to talk with people about simple and pleasant subjects like our passions, trails, things we are proud of or new lessons learned.
The Holy Grail: Harmony
There is this misunderstanding that introverts don’t like talking to people or that they are anti-social.
That’s not how it is.
It is about balance: we need to balance human interaction with enough me-time. When I am out there in nature, hiking and camping alone for a very long time I have a lot of energy and inner calmness. Thanks to that I have no issues talking to someone for a couple of hours or even more.
It does not drain me anymore as I have the solo hiking time to balance it out.
This serenity gained during longer solo hikes is like a fresh battery in my soul.
It lasts for much longer than just the hike’s length. When I get back to work I stress less and my anxiety hits later than normal.
Hiking alone builds a protective wall around my inner core which lasts for weeks after the last day of hiking hills.
Don’t go hiking unprepared - take a look below at some useful pieces of hiking clothing and gear for your next trek:
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Soon: off again
In about a month I’m hitting a trail again: this time it’s Spanish GR 1.*
Just thinking about it brings me a lot of joy. Hiking alone is for me so natural I am still surprised when people seem shocked or almost terrified with the idea.
To me, the idea of being alone out there, among beautiful views and nature brings thoughts or peacefulness and happiness.
* There was a change of plans - in the last two weeks I decided to find a different trail because of the weather. You can check more about the various trails available to hike near Barcelona.