It seems like the past few months of cold, snowy and rainy weather might finally be coming to an end, which means warmer weather and sunnier days. 

After a long first year of college, I’ll finally be able to relax and enjoy one of my favorite hobbies, hiking. 

I know the first thing that comes to mind with that word is probably mountains, heat and a lot of exercise. 

But for me, it’s more of a way to escape life for a while. Something about being outdoors on a sunny day just makes me feel at peace. 

It’s more about being outdoors surrounding yourself with nature and having a moment by yourself. 

The past two years have been extremely stressful because of the pandemic and its effects on our daily life. 

Since I was young I have always been an outdoor person. I enjoy spending time outside when the weather is nice. Even when it’s not sunny, I like to look outside through the window and admire the weather. 

When the pandemic started I would take breaks from my responsibilities by taking walks with my dog through my neighborhood, but that eventually got repetitive. 

We started going to different parks and trails in my city and the cities nearby. I liked being able to see new sights and views. 

Summer 2021 for me was a very low point mentally. I found myself dreading the start of college, yet, at the same time, I couldn’t wait to move away from my hometown. 

To cope, I would go on roadtrips with friends or family to various state parks or interesting nature trails in the states surrounding Arkansas.

Surrounding myself with nature improved my mental health. 

I enjoyed accomplishing a hike even if it was a long and treacherous trail or just a short, easy hike. The feeling of reaching the end gives you a dopamine rush. 

It made me feel good about myself and my ability to persevere through things. 

I read an article titled “Conservation Corner: Hiking through pandemic helps ease COVID stress” written by Katharine Owens where she mentions the Japanese term shinrin-yoku which means “forest bathing.” 

This concept is emerging yourself in natural habitats in isolation from society. 

The research in this article suggests that people who did this showed results of decreased anxiety and stress. 

I definitely agree with this statement because you unconsciously forget about your worries if you relax in any outdoor location. 

If hiking isn’t something you like to do, you can always just go for a small walk at the park or even step outside into your backyard for a few moments. 

Even just opening a window and letting fresh air in and listening to the sounds of nature can help relax you a bit. 

I do think that everyone should attempt to go on a hike at least once in their life because the feeling when you reach the end of the trail is one of the best feelings.

 

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