Health · Hikes and Walks

Mental Health and the Great Outdoors

Hey guys!

I hope you have all had a great week and have a fabulous weekend ahead of you. Mr OneBigStressball and I have a trip away planned and I have been obsessing over it for weeks now.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I recently took on a change in career path. You’ll also know that I really, really REALLY enjoy a wee holiday whenever I can get away. However, this change in job has come with a lower income than I had before, which has put a little dent in the number of weekend getaways MR OneBigStressball and I have been able to embark on, so this lil staycation we’re going on this weekend is something that’s been a long time coming and is a much needed break from real life.

Where are we going? Well, seeing as we didn’t want to break the bank and go abroad – and because we are going abroad in November for my brother’s birthday anyway – Mr OneBigStressball booked us a little camping pod up in the Cairngorms, a national park in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

The beautiful thing about living in Scotland is that it is absolutely jam packed with massive hills, amazing scenery and gorgeous walks, and because the country itself is so small, there really isn’t a huge need to have to drive for a ridiculous amount of hours before you can really get a feel for being out in the wilderness with no other humans around to bother you.

What is a camping pod? You might be asking yourself. Well. Apart from one horrendously cold night on the Isle of Arran, I have never really been proper ‘camping’ – that is, in a tent that I have to set up myself and ensure doesn’t blow away. I like having a bed. I like having a loo. I like having at the very least some mildly warm water to shower in. So, a camping pod is essentially a little hut that has space for two sleeping bags and a small table. Essentially, it’s a more sturdy version of a regular tent. There is a cabin nearby with a kettle, microwave and fridge, and there’s an eco loo down behind the lodges. The camping experience with some creature comforts sprinkled in.

Why am I so excited for this trip?

Well, this year, I have started to embrace the feeling of being outdoors and walking a heck of a lot more than I ever did before.

Previously, my ideal weekend would have consisted of me lying in bed till a ridiculous hour and maybe getting out of the house to go to the pub or something to fulfill my social quota.

Now, since I have more regular and stable working hours and whole weekends to fill, hill walking has become somewhat of a regular occurrence in our lives. And why wouldn’t it be? The sheer effort it takes to get to the summit of some hills is all but wiped from your memory when you suddenly find yourself completely surrounded by the most stunning scenery you’ve ever come across. I get to feel like I’ve achieved something, Mr OneBigStressball and I get to bond and spend quality time together, and we get incredible pictures and get to eat picnics in the middle of nowhere, looking onto views we wouldn’t come across in the city. Win-win for everyone!

Being outdoors has some serious mental health benefits as well, and boy, I am feeling them. The immediate effects of a long walk are amazing, and on top of this, if I’m having a shitty week at work, planning a walk or hike, or a little outdoor getaway like this weekend really helps take your mind off things, even if it is just for a little while. Below, I’m going to outline just a few advantages of dragging your tired ass out of bed, sticking your walking shoes on, and getting out into the great outdoors.

  1. There is a positive correlation between spending time outdoors and combatting depression and anxiety.

If hiking and walking outdoors has a positive effect on feelings of depression, and is linked with lower levels of anxiety, why aren’t more people flocking to the Pentlands of Edinburgh or other hill ranges? There was also a study which found that that outdoor walks could be “useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments” for major depressive disorder. Ideal.

      2. Being outdoors can possibly help with your attention span.

In a world where we are constantly moving from one thing to the next, studies have found that being out and surrounded by nature can be a tool in helping people who have short attention spans and those affected with ADHD symptoms. After just 20 minutes in an outdoor park, attention span and levels of concentration already show signs of increasing.

     3. You’ll get exercise no matter what.

If you’re out for a walk, you’re moving. Walking in itself is exercise, and this exercise will lead to higher levels of serotonin produced in the body. Serotonin = the happy hormone. Who doesn’t want more of that?!

     4. You’ll be getting that D.

Vitamin D, that is. A recent study showed that approximately 1 in 5 adults in the UK are vitamin D deficient. Diet aside (there are LOADS of food you can eat to up those levels of the D), getting outdoors is pretty much instant exposure to the sun. With winter approaching and the days getting shorter, what better way to make the most of the remaining sunshine and go on a little gander during the day?
Don’t forget your sun cream though, guys. Premature aging is not a good look.

     5. You can disconnect from the stresses of day to day life.

Put quite simply, middle of nowhere means no phone signal, which means you can’t be a slave to the scrolling, which means an instant decrease in anxiety, self esteem and stress issues.

     6. Distance yourself from people.

Sometimes, you just need time away. Being at the top of a massive hill is surprisingly effective at putting any problems you have with other people into perspective. At the end of the day, in such a vast world, things that seem like they are all-consuming and earth-shattering can seem minute and much less of a problem if you’re literally removing yourself (even for a small amount of time) from the situation and looking at it from a distance.

All in all, being outdoors is great for you. Obviously if it is cold out, wrap up warm and dress appropriately because you don’t want to catch a chill. Go adventuring. There is so much to discover outside of the city, and it is way too beautiful to pass up!


C x

One thought on “Mental Health and the Great Outdoors

  1. I have also been much more of an outdoorsman since getting sober. Usually my summers consist of drinking in my bedroom with a fan blasting cool air at me. This year I went on my first week-long vacation in probably two decades and took up paddle boarding. Much more fun than drinking alone.

    Liked by 1 person

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