Millennials love hiking, or so I’m told. I don’t have the numbers on that. But whether it’s true or not, it’s one trend I’m happy to embrace!
When we talk about self-care, we often talk about things like sleep, diet and exercise. Hiking can definitely help fill in the exercise part of that equation, but I think the self-care benefits of hiking go well beyond exercise.
Hiking is a blend of relaxation and stimulation that’s perfect for recharging mentally. On one hand, you’re moving physically and you’re seeing new places. At the same time, you’re taking in the world around you, appreciating nature, and not stressed out about doing anything in particular.
In the context of ADHD, I’m not the first person to notice that time in nature can help with coping. In fact, activities in green outdoor spaces may reduce ADHD symptoms in children, leading some researchers to describe these activities as “a potential natural treatment for ADHD.”
I’m not prepared to make the claim that hiking is a treatment for ADHD. I see it as a type of self-care, which makes it easier to cope with symptoms as any type of self-care does. Broadly, the point is that if you enjoy hiking, then hiking can have a real place in your mental health toolbox.
Hiking doesn’t even have to take place in nature. See, for example, this article about how ‘urban rambling’ became an unlikely trend for millennials.
An open-ended walk is one of my favorite ways to explore a new city. It can also be a great way to see new aspects of a city you live in.
ADHDers who enjoy hiking don’t enjoy hiking only because they have ADHD, of course. But I suspect ADHDers are especially likely to appreciate the novelty of seeing new places, whether in nature or in urban settings.
And then there’s the appeal of being on the move to ADHDers with hyperactive symptoms. Sometimes the best way to deal with not being able to sit still is to not sit still. If you’re brain is telling you it wants to move, one response is to take the H in ADHD and turn it into a hike.
There’s a parallel between hiking and traveling here: at times, listening to your hyperactive symptoms and your brain’s aversion to staying in the same place means you’ll get to see places you wouldn’t otherwise have seen!