Post Hike Depression

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After Saturday’s hike with the Black Women’s Leadership Programme, I’ve been in a little funk. I’ve been tired but more than that. I’ve lacked the motivation to get moving, to get on with things, to get things done. Instead, I’ve chosen to veg out on the couch stuffing my face, feeling sorry for myself.
Then it hit me today, I’m down after the high of the trail. After spending hours in nature, with my tribe, having a laugh, seeing new things, coming back home has been a little bit of a let down. I’m having to acclimatise back into daily life. It’s been a bumpy affair so far and I’ve been feeling low.
Now that I’ve recognised what’s going on I can treat myself with more care, patience and grace.
These are the things I’m doing or recommend doing if you happen to find yourself on a downer after a superdelux hike. Please let me just add, I’m not a professional or offering any cures, I’m just sharing from my own experiences and hoping it might help you too.

1. Stay connected with your trail friends

We created a WhatsApp group after our first training on the BWLP, and I find it a good resource for staying connected with the rest of the group when we’re not hiking together. We share our kit finds, advice, images of our walks.
I find this a good way to reminiscence about our time together and keeps the good times rolling until we meet again and get back out there together.

2. Take lots of pictures and videos when out there.

This links in with the above point. While out in nature hiking, I make sure I stop and pay attention to the big and the small wonders and make sure I capture them in pictures and films. It slows my progress down as I’m stopping to capture this tree or this flower but it means I’m in the moment as well as having something to look back on afterwards to relive the moment alone and with others.

3. Simplify things

While our walking, for long and short hikes, all you’ve got to worry about it putting one foot in front of another. Food and water and sleeping. The usual day to day worries are no longer relevant out there because you are carrying all you need on your back and getting to your next destination. So returning home, I’ve found great moments of clarity and happiness when I’ve tried to simplify my life. I’ve been cleaning and getting rid of clutter. Getting rid of the negative energy to welcome in the positive and this has included relationships and people.

4. Exercising

I’ve been tired after the weekend of training so haven’t had the energy or motivation to exercise. But today I made myself get out there. I got into the sea first, and took along a waterproof camera so I could bring in an element of play to it and get me under the water! Feeling energised and more positive afterwards, I went for a run around the park and came back to stretch out with a yoga routine. Who’s in a funk now? Not me.

5. Create a plan to get back out there

I’ve been keeping the excitement and enthusiasm alive for the Great Outdoors by researching gear, watching YouTube videos on backpacking, started planning for our overnight expedition in July, pulling out maps and scoping out new trails. This has been feeding my urges to be in nature when I know I haven’t had the time to get out due to work and family commitments or being in that funk.

6. Go outside

So I know I haven’t got the time or funds to go on a hike every day, but there is nothing stopping me from getting outside and getting some fresh air.
As I mentioned earlier, I went out for a run but made a conscious effort to do that in the park in my neighbourhood. Urban green spaces have the same benefits of the trail and are easier to get to and are probably taken for granted.
I ran amongst the trees and wild flowers and could feel my mood lifting.

7. Incorporate lessons learned out there into everyday life

This is a really important way to keep connected with the trails, with nature because I’m reflecting on the experience and taking what I’ve learned out in nature and making a difference to my everyday life, my reality.
What I learned this weekend, is after a high comes a low and to be more prepared for it.
I’ve heard of post hike depression before but together thought if didn’t exist or happens if you’re out there doing the long hikes, thru-hikes sort of things. But what I’ve learned is that it can happen after any experience where you’ve had a good time, experiences new and amazing things and gained a sense of achievement. Something has been awakened inside me and it’s a case of where do I go from here, trying to keep the highs but at the same time acknowledging and compensating for the lows that will follow afterwards.

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