Sickness. Fear. Repeated night waking. Anxiety. Frustration. Relationship challenges. Tears. This past week has been difficult, to say the least. But it occurred to me Sunday night at 3:30am, after being awake with my daughter for 1.5 hours, that I’m homeschooling now, and I can do what I want (I kind of like that). So I promptly turned off my 6am alarm, realizing that I really needed sleep if I was going to function at all on Monday.
Once I woke up, I decided to give in to my desire for a fall hike rather than stay at home. I knew we had work we should probably do, but I felt the need for this outing outweighed the need to complete the to-do list. There’s lots of reasons why a fall hike is an absolutely amazing idea, but I’ll just share 3 today:
1. Physical Wellness – There’s something to be said about breathing in the cool, crisp, fall air. It wakes up the lungs. Going for a hike also causes you to move. You can go as fast or as slow as you like – or, if you’re with your kid(s), as fast as they like. Either way, just getting the body moving and the blood flowing is certainly good for our bodies.
I find hiking to be different from other exercise – to me, it doesn’t really feel like exercise. I guess you could call it “sneaky fitness”. Unlike pilates or lifting weights, when your primary focus is on the actual movements you are doing, hiking allows your mind to wander and enjoy the sights and sounds, rather than focusing on the actual exercise you’re doing. This is good for both you and the kids! If you’re homeschooling like me, hiking counts as P.E.!
2. Mental Wellness – As my daughter and I hiked along the path of Great Head in Acadia National Park, we were able to do lots of learning and observing along the way. It was amazing to me to see her put together the things she has been learning in our homeschool program and connect them to the real world. As we walked along, she was recognizing fungi on the path. After seeing a beaver dam on the drive, we discussed whether beavers and otters are related, and she asked if she could do the “Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order-Family-Genus-Species” for those 2 animals.
We also observed a variety of birds and discussed what “aggressive” means, after I warned her about not feeding the sea gulls. We observed a red squirrel eating, as well as running to the top of the tree and shaking pine cones down to ground, almost on our heads! We took in the sounds of the ocean, the sights of the amazing foliage, and also practiced our memory work during the car ride. So while some might look at going on a hike as taking a day off from school, I see it as the exact opposite.
3. Emotional Wellness – For me, being outdoors in nature, and especially hiking, has long been something restorative. After the challenging week we’ve had, it’s no wonder I was craving this particular type of activity. And it proved to be beneficial not just for me, but for my daughter as well.
We’ve been dealing with a lot of fear lately. And the hike was no different. When we reached the first section of a challenging climb, she immediately became fearful and did not want to do it. She struggled with taking the first step and attempting the difficult portion of rocks. Even though I was right there to help her, she was still having anxiety about the situation.
Thankfully, she was able to push through the fear, and with a little help from me, accomplish getting past the tough portion of climbing. Shortly after, there was another challenging section, which again caused her to stop and express her fear. Once we got past these parts, we were able to talk about how she faced her fear and was able to get through it, and even how it wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be. When we sat down to eat lunch, taking in the incredible views, we were able to reflect on how – if she hadn’t pushed past the fear – we would not have been able to enjoy that moment. Isn’t that true for so much of life? We have to push past our fears to enjoy the truly beautiful moments, like these ones:
So if you’ve been putting off going for a hike, or something else that is life-giving to you – do it! I found this day to be just the thing we needed to get the week off to a good start. What will you commit to doing this week for your own wellness?