The phrase “Take a hike” may conjure up memories of a bouncer or bartender kicking us out after we have had one too many. The phrase is often used to get rid of people no matter what the problem may be.
However, we can change that meaning to an entirely different context. As we step into our recovery journey, there are a lot of new activities to explore and engage in that help not only our minds and bodies but also our souls. One of these activities that can be very healing is hiking.
The Analogy of the Path
The journey of recovery begins with the first step onto a path where we cannot necessarily see the end, although we have an idea of where we want to go. The same can be true of hiking. Usually, when we take the first steps onto that path, we cannot see the end of our journey. We only trust that the path will lead us where we want to go.
There is also a sense of adventure and wonder involved in both journeys. In recovery, we are being bold and doing things that we may have never tried before.
Our motivation is healing, but our journey will take twists and turns, and the path can be obscured at times, just like the plants and trees on an actual journey.
On a hike, after all of the challenges along the trail, imagine coming around the final turn and seeing the most spectacular view of the ocean, with the sun hitting the water and nothing to obscure the view. That amazing view may have been our motivation to hike, just like healing is our motivation in recovery.
When we step into treatment, our first step on the recovery path, we may not have any real idea of what awaits us. Just like the exquisite ocean view, we found on our hike, spectacular views of our life await us on our recovery journey.
Connecting with Nature
One of the greatest things about hiking is the ability it gives us to connect with nature. Gone are the sounds of traffic, cell phones, office machines, construction, and so many voices.
Missing are the brick walls, cement and pavement landscapes, stucco-covered homes, and steel and glass structures.
The collective noises of our lives give way to the sounds of birds singing, insects humming, and the breeze floating gently through the trees. Maybe we can even hear the sound of a stream trickling nearby.
This is healing for humans. As much as we are social creatures, sometimes, we need some peace and the beauty of nature to help us connect with life and with ourselves.
Physical Benefits of Hiking
Exercise is a crucial component of treatment in substance use. The healing powers it has on our bodies may seem obvious, in that we have abused our bodies.
Moving helps to increase cardiovascular activity, improve muscle tone, and overall heal those body systems. Exercise is cleansing and helps our bodies to clean out the toxins of past substance use.
Hiking, specifically, provides excellent levels of cardiovascular activity for an extended period, and can also provide various levels of physical demands. We might take a simple stroll on a very short hike, or plan a more difficult hike for the afternoon, or an all-day hike that is more demanding. Each level of the hike can be healing, physically and mentally.
For our minds, exercise releases endorphins, which create a natural high for us. This is helpful because it is a healthy high that we can access regularly.
As we do, it can become an important form of self-care, too. Exercise can help us establish routines and provide motivation for healthy activities.
This is why hiking is such a great activity on the recovery path because the physical challenge is combined with the motivation of wonder and discovery, which helps us to continue to do good things for our minds and bodies.
In recovery, we need to heal emotionally first and foremost. Hiking helps us to clear our minds and gives us a peaceful setting to get in touch with our feelings.
Seeing the beauty in the setting can help us appreciate the blessings we have in our lives, and we may even be able to get in touch with whatever level of spirituality that we have. There is also the physical representation of starting on a path, putting one foot in front of the other, and reaching our goal.
For some of us, we may not have experienced this for a while. That sense of accomplishment and purpose can help to heal us emotionally, and provide that analogy for our recovery journey, too.
Hiking gives us so many opportunities for healing and learning. Not only to heal our bodies but our minds and our souls, as well.
Hiking can be an analogy for our recovery journey that affords us a microscopic glimpse at some of the trials that lie ahead, but also the spectacular triumphs. We can connect with nature and connect with ourselves.
As we step out on that path, whether it be the literal path of hiking or the metaphorical journey of recovery, we never know what adventures await us.
Discover the healing powers of hiking. Call AToN Center at (888) 535-1516 today and learn how to heal holistically in nature’s backyard.