Nature Heals!

Exercise has never been my friend. In fact, one of my first blogs talked about exactly this issue — how hard it is for people with ADD and depression to get out and move (even though it’s so important).

However, I’ve been in a strange season of life recently that has forced me to change some of my habits. I’m waiting for a new job to start and, without anything to do, I’ve been bored out of my mind. While navigating this transition, the strangest thing happened.

I fell in love with hiking and with nature. Who woulda thought!

Last week I hiked 11 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain up to Mount LeConte, one of the highest peaks in the Smokies. And I’m not going to lie — for a lot of the hike I wanted to die. It was exhausting and draining and at some points deeply challenging both emotionally and physically. However, when I got to the top, I felt a euphoria and pride I haven’t felt in a long time. After being bored all summer, feeling like I had achieved something once again inspired and exhilarated me.

In the last few weeks, I’ve walked and hiked more than I have in years and I’ve spent at least three days a week out on a trail. Mount LeConte was actually my third huge hike this month. And the more I’ve hiked and exercised, the more motivated I’ve become to keep it up.

People have told me to exercise more for years, but I had no idea how healing nature and movement could really be for my mental health. It forces me to quiet my brain, find time to be grateful for the world around me and gives me something I can continuously work to improve. I’ve started to understand how people can get so addicted to endorphins. Hell, this is probably the first time I’ve even exercised enough to even feel endorphins.

During a time of depression, it can be incredibly hard to get out and move or exercise. And this is not to say that time outside can take the place of therapy or medication. But I’m finding each day more and more that nature heals when I’m at my lowest. In fact, I’ve felt too unmotivated to even blog recently, but I felt inspired enough while out on the trail that I sat down on a bench and wrote this post in my iPhone notes. I even ran a mile this today and I don’t think I’ve done that since middle school PE.

So even if it feels extra hard, get outside. I absolutely know how tough (and sometimes miserable) it can be, but I’m learning that a little exercise or a walk in the woods each day really can turn things around.

What keeps you motivated to exercise? Let me know in the comments!

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