Page 14 - AreaNewsletters "May 2021" issue
P. 14

Why Hiking is
Good for Your Mental Health
By Dawn Gabriel, MA, LPC, Founder, Owner of Authentic Connections Counseling Center
Colorado trails are one of the best things, in my opinion, of our state. At the end, I will list some of my family’s favorites right here in Castle Rock. While most people know exercise is good for your physical health, (hello endorphins!) let’s take a look at why hiking a trail can be good for your mental and emotional well being.
What are the bene ts of getting out on a trail?
• Unplugging from your daily demands in a natural setting can boost clarity and positivity.
• Practicing mindfulness by getting in tune with your physical body, thoughts and feelings. Turn o  your cell phone or put it in airplane mode so you can still take pictures, and take in the experience of being outdoors. Try this mindfulness exercise: Use your 5 senses to notice and slow down your mind. 5 things you can see. 4 Things you can hear. 3 things you can touch. 2 things you can smell. 1 thing you can taste.
• Being in the outdoors can be inspiring and calming. (maybe obvious one?)
• Enjoying the literal and  gurative change of pace and perspective, especially
when you feel “stuck” with something in your life.
• Walking is a form of bi-lateral stimulation (stimulating both sides of the brain) which so much research shows how that promotes increased mental and emotional health. Read more about bi-lateral stimulation here:
• Exercise (in this case walking/hiking) is proven in research to reduce tension and stress, improve mood, boost self-esteem, improve sleep, increase energy
So if you are new to Castle Rock or haven’t explored all the trails, here are some of my suggestions (besides the obvious ones: The Rock and The MAC). These have
all been tested and loved by my kids since age 2.
May 2021 • Castle Rock “AreaNewsletters” 14

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