She felt the tears trickle down her face, dribbling into her mouth. Her eyes puffy, dark circles like charcoal circles underneath. Her hair limp, and unloved, tucked away in a felt cobalt blue beanie, tendrils escaping. Her body, mind and soul were exhausted, beneath a tumotous sky adorned with silver thread. And yet, despite her appearence, and mood, she was healing. On a mountain dressed in monochrome. Feeling the icy claws of winter scratch at her reddened cheeks. Hands stiffening, shoved into voluminous ski jacket pockets. She was hurting, but the walk was cathartic. Where she let out tears into the abyss of winter. Feeling the calm wash over her, the snowflakes slipping into her weathered hands. She treaded through the snow, one step at time. The symphony of the crunching snow, a story unsaid. Footprints left behind, a blizzard coming. Each step she took, felt like resilience. Everytime she climbed, she felt her depression slipping back into the shadows. For she sought the solace of a meditative hiking walk, breathing in the wilderness anew. A testament to strength, uphill battles and conquered fears. Frosty paths that showed her the holistic benefits of hiking. That helped her find clarity among the wintery maze.
The sun broke through the grey clouds, blue skies coming. But still snow that engulfed her walking boots, like frozen clouds. At last, she reached the top of the mountain and breathed a sigh of relief. Pausing, taking stock, being present in the moment. Bruach na Frìthe in the Isle of Sky, a throne cloaked in a shroud of eternal snow. A mighty peak that caressed the skies with soothing kisses. The icy whispers of winter serenaded jagged rocks, as you stood in solitude. Not a soul in sight, in your own world. Though the trail was hard, she felt like she was standing amongst giants. Embracing the mountain’s intense call. Challenging her physical and mental limits, still standing tall. She never used to like the cold. Watching the day speed into night, left behind in the inky darkness. Joints embalmed in frost, bundled into suffocating layers. There was a rigidness and stiffness about winter. Or so she thought. But when she discovered the holistic benefits of hiking in winter, everything changed. Finding the silence peaceful, even as winter’s grip encircled the ground. Finding clarity in herself even when the rain hammered down the mountain. Weeping tears of relief even when the demons put her down.
But she wasn’t letting them win, not this time. Relishing the snow-kissed vistas that were almost surreal. Reaching the summit of her quest, through treachorous routes, bursting with pride. She had courage, and grit, that much was true. She couldn’t credit just herself though. Rain, snow, winter, or summer, being outdoors cleansed her soul. On solo travels, that helped her embrace the power of being alone. On a small walk into a forest, bathing in the golden hour light. Reminding herself of winter walks that she enjoyed before. Snow angels as a child, cheeks stretched out from laughing. Feeling the dampness of toes that were numb, hands nursing oozing hot chocolate. The outdoors was always there for her. Even when she hid away, burrowing into the folds of her blanket, it waited with outstretched hands. Even when she sat hunched over her laptop, its soothing call whispered to her gently. No matter how long she abandoned it for, the outdoors was always kind to her. It held her hand in the darkest of days. A buried under a mountain of scarves. Chin tucked into a double layer of coats. Nature was always her cathartic release. Even when the animals hibernated, and the world outside was silent, she smiled.
One day, she would go on hiking holidays in Europe, seeking a pilgrimage that would heal her heart. Travelling far and wide to find emotions that would drench her in joy. In beautiful Madeira, where her parents were from.Where fragrant orchids bloomed, embracing coastal cliffs. Wandering down levada paths into Laurisilva forests, where serenity was found. A volcanic island, whose heart was embalmed in emerald greens, and azure blues. Though it snowed rarely, she had witnessed it twice in her life. The first in December many years ago, on Pico Ruivo’s hiking summit. The walk that she nicknamed the gateway to the skies. The highest peak in Madeira, that she once saw in the snow. She revelled in the stillness. Walking the same steps that her ancestors once took. Watching the mellowing sun melt into night, the snow slowly fading away. But the night sky on a winter hike? Breathtaking, gazing at the milky way arch over the Pico Ruivo mountain.Stories etched in constellations, forever bold. A cosmic language sewn into the fabric of the night.
She stumbled back into the present, the rain wrapping its gray hands around her windowpane. The roar of the wind, a blend of joy, sorrow and memories to keep. The skies were dark, a tulmotous veil, the sun hiding behind its prisoned barricade. But despite the analogy, she remembered how being outside made her feel. How even when she was depressed, anxious, down and unmotivated, it always found a way to bring her joy. From nourishing her mental health, to boosting her immune system, walking made her feel again. She realized over the years that the holistic benefits of hiking in winter were too great to pass up on. It was about the small things too. The cleansing cadence of the rain like poetry reaching into her soul. The harsh abrasion of the winter wind awakening her senses. The snow, that voluminous white creature. Whose very prescence was short and sweet. A temporary lover, who made her want to go outside.
Hiking Nourishes Your Mental Health
Snow or not, the winter cold was like balm to her soul. Plunging into an airy ice bath, that boosted her serotonin levels. That created balance, uplifting her mental state and energy. As she wrote this, she was engulfed under a blanket of exhaustion. Fingers moving on autopilot, writing from the heart. Hooded eyelids drooping, joints that melted into themselves. Yet, envisioning that snowy carpeted landscape, was like manna to her soul. Showing up, was half the battle. One she knew well. How much power it took to get out of bed in the morning. How depression wrapped around her throat, and down her body. A heavy darkness that covered her like an aura. Her anxiety on the other side of the spectrum. That got her out of bed in the morning, restless legs. That told her to keep going, even when she physically couldn’t. That pushed her to do more, even when she tried to do less. Yet, walking outside in winter was like a big F-U to the big D and A. Walking in white spaces that helped enhance her connectness to nature, and self-compassion. That helped her appreciate the little things, and focus on being present.
Admittedly, being in the moment was hard. When the claustrophobia of the anxiety was taking over, she would panic-swallow deep swathes of air. Struggling to find a way out. Stuck in the eye of the storm. And yet, there was hope. Finding restorative natural environments, that would hold her hand, and force her to sit. A gentle push into meditation, and silent reflection. That encouraged her to be at one with herself. Even if she was outside for just twenty minutes, it helped her breathe. Thinking clearly in the solitude of nature, her mind clearing. Whether it was green space or snow space, contact with nature was healing. She would come up with ideas, for future projects, bursting with excitement. Transforming, healing, growing and reclaiming her confidence, in a non-judgemental space. Though she could have gone with other people, she chose to go on her own. Rarely alone, her quiet place to think. In between two worlds, where nothing else mattered but the here and now. She breathed in the fresh air, felt her heart beating faster. The sun spilling like an orange-egg yolk .
That trapped feeling that she knew so well faded away. That fog that spat spiders into her cloudy mind, leaving clarity and peace behind. The days that blended together like a colourless haze, given a sense of purpose. Even when she was lost, the winter walks helped her find her way. Even in the darkest hour, she found her hidden power. A break away from her regular routine, that led her mind away from stressful situations. But her biggest mental takeaway from hiking in winter? The rush of endorphins, that filled her life with meaning. That transformed her tired shell of a body, and made her feel alive again. Sprinkling her with productivity, positivity, and gratitude. Changing her mindset, encouraging her to step outside of her comfort zone. It was strange to say, but the cold was like therapy. Boosting her self-esteem and confidence. Looking at herself with renewed joy, seeking the light in flurrying snow storms.
Hiking Helps You Sleep Better
A often had issues with sleeping, struggling with panic attacks throughout the night. Waking up, the inky darkness punctuated by shallow breathing. Spending hours sitting up in bed, trying to calm herself down. Burdened with worries that had her spinning in circles. And yet, a winter hike was soothing. Exposure to vitamin D to help control her wake-sleep cycle. Being outside watching the first swathes of snow, envelop the floor in a mushy white carpet. Her body temperature raised, feeling the melatonin coursing through her body like rum. She lost count of the days lost to sleepless nights, wandering around aimlessly. Ragged movements on autopilot, three steps behind. The days blurring into one, half-alive. Yet the holistic benefits of hiking in the cold was unprecendented. The sleep that would be too good to be true. Chugging from a water bottle, her cheeks flushed red. Coming home, taking off her warm winter clothes. Her internal temperature going down, her eyes growing sleepy.
In the warmer months she would jump into a cool shower. Feeling the biting waters embrace, a baptism of serenity and grace. Her tired and weary soul invigorated, and rejuvanated. Turning the fans on, feeling the artificial wind cup her face. But the cold was different. Turning the heating on, a blanket wrapped around her body like a buritto. Feeling the warm slowly thaw out her frozen limbs. Like a cat unfurling from sleep. The heating off after a while, a hot herbal tea tantalizing her senses. Then, when her body was at a normal temperature, she would sink into the bath of dreams. Grasping silky bubbles reflecting light like shimmering array. Caressing her skin, letting the sorrows melt like suds that softly foam. She shook herself back into the present. Climbing hills, careful not to slip on its sludgy grey carpet, the last remenants of snow, washed away by rain. Despite the weather, the exposure to natural sunlight would help improve her circadian rhythm. Bolstering her sleep-wake cycle, allowing her body to recognize when it was finally bedtime. A respite from endless hours typing away at your computer. The world of difference, batting away insomnia.
Winter Hiking Is Kinder To Your Body
She remembered hiking in Madeira many summers ago. In flat beige embellished open toe sandals, the impractical choice. Shorts and a tank top, her hair cascading down her back. Sweating in the heat, the dribble of perspiration on her forehead. Eight hours of walking through the most beautiful terrains. Through Laurel forests and abandoned old churches. Dusty dirt trails, and narrow caves. Yet, after eight hours in sandals, her calves were aching, and her feet were pulsating. Pounding against rocky terrains, that left her fatigued and sore. Yet in the winter (and with the right footwear), it felt different. One of the biggest holistic benefits of hiking in winter, was how kind it was to her body. The soft surface of the snow cushioning her body. Running on a soft dirt trail versus running on hard concrete. Building her fitness hiking without the same soreness as summer hiking. She would travel further and higher, the cold pushing her further. A dance upon frozen earth, where footprints carved a story of rebirth.
The health benefits of hiking in winter was unparelleled. Navigating uneven terrain like hills, dirt, mud, rocks and tree roots, that improved her balance. Developing strength which maintained her balance. Sensing the change, and her center of gravity. Having the strength to make that adjustment. Though she had chronic back and joint pain, she found that hiking was gentle. Getting her heart rate up without putting too much stress on her joints. Even when she dawdled, mesmerised by the icy beauty, her heart rate quickened. Excercise without the strain. With every breath crisp air filled her lungs, as if whispering the secrets from ancient tongues. The silence only broken by her boots trudging through the snow. Her spirit would awaken from its dormant sleep. Her joints loosening, her strength building. It was a well known fact that hiking played a role in bone density. Her, with her trusty lilac backpack, loading the spine. Building strong muscles as she power walked through the snow. Keeping them active and engaged. Up a hill she worked out her quadricep muscles. The wind whispering tales of forgotten lands, where mighty peaks touched the heavens with their hands.
Winter Hiking Trails Can Boost Your Immune System
Beneath the skin’s breath, a symphony of cells danced until death. Protecting her immune system from the cruel and inhumane. Defenders of life, where antibodies rised. Behind battle lines, their resilience was unmatched. T Cells, whose loyalty was fierce. Macrophages the cleanup crew on call. And who could forget the Phagocytes, who ingulfed invaders and restored the light? But what did the immune system have to do with the holistic benefits of hiking? It would reduce her likelihood of contracting illnesses.The immune system activated when exposed to the cold. She breathed in deeply, letting the cold air rush over her. It was strange, but the more time she spent outside, the less colds and flus she would contract. Where the mountains sang lulling you into a calm trance. A journey of healing, a discovery of happiness. Drawing up courage, letting winter envelop her in its meditative hug. She would run up the hill, despite the rain whose sacred communion cleansed the path. Shivering before she begun, the cold rain dribbling down her streaked face. But surprisingly, it would lead to an increased norepinephrine response, boosting her immune system.
There were other benefits too. Moderately cold temperatures (5-10 degrees) that gave her clearer skin. Constraining blood vessels in the skin. Less prone to redness and swelling, a reduction in blood flow. Clearing her pores, the skin feeling cleased. She gazed at her face, free from makeup in the mirror. Blemishes and acne marks left behind, a slight redness on her cheeks. Yet, her skin was more vibrant than it had been in a while. The cold a tonic that made her skin come alive. Slowing down and preventing the secretion of sebum, waterproofing the skin and hair. It felt like a vessel that held the universe, reducing inflammation in the eyes and face. It’s why she bathed her skin in ice cold water everyday, keeping her skin tight, vibrant and radiant. Hiking outside didn’t just protect her immune system either. Raising her resting metabolic rate, burning more calories at rest. She wasn’t a calorie counter by any means nor did she believe in diets. But even she could admit that burning calories helped regulate her body temperature. Keeping her comfortable, increasing her stamina, the more active she was.
Hiking Helps You Embrace Alone Time The Right Way
She remembered when she was scared to be alone. From a young age wondering if people were pointing and staring. If they wondered why she was on her own. The truth was the older she got, the more she realized how much those thoughts were in her head. Relishing the rare quiet times when she was on her own, revelling in the silence. Sure, she was a social butterfly, who craved human connection. But going for walks helped her embrace her own space. A part of her spirtual self-care ritual, cherishing the solitude. The weight of burdens dissolving like fragile sand in the palm of her hand. Filling her cup with feel-good hormones. Sitting down and listening to the melody of nature. The rustle of bare trees tinged with icy frost. The kiss of a tempetous breeze. Even in the depths of silence a symphony was heard. A sanctuary that embraced solitudes balm. Connected to the natural world, its loving hand around her. Even though the days were shorter, and the nights were longer, she found peace.
She remembered being stuck in the rain, something she hated usually. Feeling the rush of adrenaline that weaved its excitable spell. Seeing the world through a child-like innocence, finding freedom in the outside world. It went without saying that the holistic benefits of hiking helped her embrace her own space. But what it did even further was change her mindset. Helping her to spend more time outside, even when she was depressed and anxious. Having the motivation to go outside, even when her body was broken in trauma. Immersing herself in nature, boosting mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. For, she was once someone who hated being alone. Who was nervous about what people may say or think. A reminder to childhood and teen years alone. A look back into a past where she was alienated, neglected and abused. But despite this, things had changed. She no longer minded being alone. In fact she craved it. Her own safe space in a silent environment. Where she could tune out and watch the world around her. Getting to know herself away from other people. Getting comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. She would plant seeds of peace in her mind. Letting the negativity drift on by. As she gazed at the white diamond snow that blanketed the earth in stillness. Tasting the laughter of winters past on the tip of her tongue. At last she had found her own cosmic journey. Where her mind, body and soul were reunited in the artistery of snow.
What Holistic Benefits Of Winter Hiking Appeals To You?
Please note this is a collaborative post but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation.