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10 Ways That Hiking Has Made My Life Better

10 Ways That Hiking Has Made My Life Better

When the grind of the city gets to be too much, my first instinct is to hit the trails. There is just something about hiking that pushes the stress of everyday life out of my head and lets me enjoy the simpler parts of life. Scientific research has even begun to provide evidence in support of the 10 ways that hiking makes my life a whole lot more enjoyable. Here’s how:

1. I can relax

A 2011 study in the Journal of Public Health found that people who spent time in nature showed significantly reduced levels of stress hormones in their bodies than people who remained in the city, and I can vouch for that! When I’m hiking, all the anxiety of work and assignments fades away behind the sound of rushing water and crunching leaves.

2. I can recuperate

Psychologists have known for a long time that spending time outdoors refreshes the mind. Research from the Journal of Environmental Psychology way back in 1995 demonstrated that people who went outside outperformed city dwellers on a number of challenging mental tasks. I know when I come back to an assignment after a hike, all the work suddenly seems more doable.

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    3. I can get inspired

    There’s something about seeing nature at work that gets the creative juices flowing like nothing else. Maybe it’s being able to push all the usual stress out of the way, but scrambling up a mountain or hiking to a remote waterfall gets me thinking about things in entirely new ways and lets me find solutions to problems I didn’t even consider before.

    4. I can improve my focus

    Feeling rejuvenated after a hike also translates into me having more energy to spend on a given task. After I unlace my boots and wash off all the trail grit I can devote hours to a job that I only had the patience to tackle in 20-minute bursts before I got outside. There’s nothing like fresh air to clear your head.

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      5. I can fight off disease more effectively

      Believe it or not, time spent outdoors can significantly improve your immune system. Several studies in the Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents, as well as the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, have found evidence that the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoko (literally “forest bathing”) can boost immune function. The active agent is thought to be chemicals released by trees called phytoncides.

      6. I look better

      I have long suspected that if I didn’t hike every chance I get, I would quickly move up a few sizes in the world of pants and research seems to support that. Studies in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine have found that hiking is an effective way to shed extra pounds. The effects are even stronger if you can get hiking at high altitudes.

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        7. I feel invincible

        I may not feel like a superhero when I’m sweating through my shirt and panting like a dog in a sauna on the side of a mountain, but when I haul myself onto the summit of a mountain I feel like I could outrun Usain Bolt. Research in the Journal of Travel Medicine supports the idea that hiking makes you feel strong, with respondents on hikes reporting stronger positive emotions than those who stayed at home.

        8. I can test my limits

        The only way to know what you are really capable of is to walk up to the limit of you physical ability and try to take one more step over the line. Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two people to climb Mount Everest, probably said it best: “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

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        9. I can make new friends

        Almost without exception, the people I’ve met on trails have been the nicest strangers I’ve come across anywhere in my life. The people I have been on hiking trips with are some of the fastest friends I have ever made. There is something about sharing a tough experience with another person that helps you set aside differences and find common ground.

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          10. I can change my perspective

          You will never feel smaller than you do standing at the lip of the Grand Canyon or in an expansive mountain valley. Everything in the civilized world from taxes to car payments to a cell phone that constantly drops calls seems insignificant when you’re up against the scale of nature. It is nice to be reminded that everything in your life that seems like a big deal only really matters because you let it.

          Featured photo credit: Didgeman via pixabay.com

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          Last Updated on July 10, 2020

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

          We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

          So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

          Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

          What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

          Boundaries are limits

          —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

          Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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          Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

          Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

          Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

          How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

          Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

          1. Self-Awareness Comes First

          Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

          You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

          To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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          You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

          • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
          • When do you feel disrespected?
          • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
          • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
          • When do you want to be alone?
          • How much space do you need?

          You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

          2. Clear Communication Is Essential

          Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

          Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

          3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

          Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

          That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

          Sample language:

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          • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
          • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
          • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
          • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
          • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
          • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
          • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

          Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

          4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

          Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

          Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

          Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

          We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

          It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

          It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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          Final Thoughts

          Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

          Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

          Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

          The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

          Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

          Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

          They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

          Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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