Last Updated on September 5, 2022 by Bruce
If you are someone who is interested in hiking but hasn’t started yet, you may be struggling with the mental barrier. It can seem daunting to think about walking for miles and carrying all of your supplies on your back. But don’t let that stop you! There are many ways to start hiking, and we’re going to share with you five of them.
Doubts Before Hiking
So you are sold on the idea of hiking, great. There is still this nagging feeling, though? Something in your way, an obstacle, you are uncertain about how to start, when to start and always find a reason not to start?
This is common, we’ve all been there at some point in life, in a number of ways. I am there myself right now, I want to play rugby, I have never played for a properly established team before but have played in the past and I love it, so what’s stopping me? I know the benefits for me, that I will enjoy, what is stopping me? Well, a whole number of things; cost, fear of the unknown and a terrible habit of procrastinating to name a few. I keep saying ‘next week I’m busy now”, keep putting it off for other things. Well, I am changing my attitude, I have decided to start this week, one of the two training sessions, I am going, I have to.
In fact, I am going tonight… I think.
There you go, therein lies the problem, it’s the action, perhaps apathy, perhaps anticipation. It is the unknown and most people do not like the unknown and avoid it consciously or unconsciously. This is where I am going to try and help, with my own personal challenge of starting rugby training.
First of all, I will talk about the rewards of stepping into the unknown. Everything becomes that little bit easier when you know the benefits, and it helps if you can outweigh all the random negatives your mind comes up with to not going.
There is this feeling you have to overcome; you have to break out of your routine once in a while to achieve more, to feel more, to live more. ‘Try something new today’ may be a slogan for supermarkets to play around with but it is hugely important for happiness. Even the little things, enjoy the little things, change them, try a new drink at a bar, a new meal… don’t make the mistake of falling into a routine.
‘I like my routine, though, I have my favourite coffee and stick to it?’This question may pop up a lot, and it is valid. What I say to that is great, I am happy you are pleased with your routine, but do you find yourself bored, or unsatisfied at times? I know I do, I all too often fall into my comfort zones, order the same things, perhaps as a fear of missing out, losing money or making a mistake, I all too often fail to try a new way as I know what works for me.
What if I am missing out on a much better alternative? What if there is a better way, a happier way? Am I missing out on it by sticking to my mediocracy, my content choices? Yes.
What if your choice to try something new failed, a mistake? GREAT. I know this sounds crazy, but I am sure most of you have heard before, mistakes are something you learn from. A mistake is often more worthwhile than a success;the memories, the lessons, the knowledge and wisdom gained is priceless, well certainly compared to a £3 pound coffee you didn’t like.
In short, the biggest benefit is you can’t lose, but you can gain immensely. By taking up hiking, you can gain so much, a hobby, confidence, social skills, community, deep inner thoughts. You can get whatever you want from hiking, and the opportunity to grow is indefinite. There is always something new to try, always a new way to push yourselves, to leave your comfort zone, to feel pleases, satisfied and proud of yourself.
Remember the feeling when you applied for your first job or took your driving test, or asked a girl or guy out? It does stuff to you, probably some chemical stuff, I don’t know, but you feel alive. If you were unsuccessful, no worries, plenty more jobs out there, the driving test can be hard, and ‘plenty of fish in the sea’( I apologise for the use of this quote, but it fits well), but that fact you tried, the fact you did something a lot of people find hard to do, that you didn’t just stay in your shell is amazing for self-help. You pick yourself up, dust yourself down, get back on your bike, whatever, any one of those cliches are apt, where do you think Matt Damon would be if he didn’t persist with Good Will Hunting, if after all the failures he had, he gave up?
There is honestly no loss to trying something new. I encourage you to try hiking, it is great, trust me. Start this weekend, just go for an extended walk near a beach, farmlands or a network of city parks. Just enjoy the outdoors, the birds or the chance to think. It doesn’t have to be a long walk, but the next time, try a longer one, move further a field, travel to the hills, the famous locations. Start slowly and enjoy it, DON’T go buying loads of equipment before you start, don’t push yourself too hard on your first hike.
You have to enjoy it. Otherwise, there is little point. Once you become slightly experienced, up the difficulty, challenge yourself in new ways, push yourself.
As the old saying goes; ‘it is better to have loved and lost than never loved at all?
5 ways to breakthrough the mental barrier and start Hiking!
1. Buddy up!!
Ask a friend! Anything that you are nervous about suddenly becomes a whole lot easier when with a person you trust and enjoy spending your time with. There is also the benefit that you will have someone ringing you up to encourage you to the day; it is a lot easier to wake up and say no to a walk to yourself, than to saying it to someone else. Everyone wants to avoid the guilt of letting someone else down and you will take that first big step into hiking.
What if you are struggling to convince any of your friends to become budding hikers? No worries there are other options.
2. Join a group.
Another great way to start hiking is to find a group or club in your area that goes on regular hikes. This will help you get used to the idea of hiking with others, and it’s also a great way to meet new people who share your interests.
This is how I got into hiking and is one of the best ways as you’ll learn the correct techniques from people who know them, you will be a lot safer and your progression will be quicker, in theory. Not forgetting all the new friends you’ll make, this is a really great option. To find groups I advise simply looking at google, there will be plenty of options, and don’t forget to consider groups which don’t just focus on hiking; there will be more chance of finding a group but also, more options to broaden your horizons and change your life.
Happy with the first 2 suggestions? Worried about finance?
3. Keep costs down.
Hiking doesn’t have to be expensive, the beauty of hiking is its simplicity, and simplicity is not expensive. Of course, you get many hikers that spend a fortune on equipment and enjoy doing that; that’s fine if you have the money. What if you are like me on a restricted income? Then it is still possible. Over the coming weeks I will be writing equipment articles so keep tuned, however, quick hints, for now, expensive doesn’t always mean better, see my article on choosing hiking boots, shop around, use the internet carefully and you will find bargains, and perhaps most importantly, don’t go crazy on spending.
Slowly invest, start with essentials, boots, map and compass and waterproofs perhaps. This leads to my next point.
4. Take it easy.
When it comes to hiking, the best way to start is simply by taking the plunge and going for it. Of course, you don’t want to start with something too ambitious or you’ll only end up getting discouraged. So begin with a short hike near your home and work your way up from there. The key is to take things slowly at first so that you can gradually get used to the activity. If you go with all guns blazing and try and climb a mountain on the back of no previous experience, you will likely fail and never go again. Be realistic, set an aim you can achieve and slowly improve.
Perhaps the most important point coming up;
Have the right mental attitude, be optimistic, slow down, enjoy the experience, share it with friends or enjoy it alone, do whatever you like, at the pace you like. It is all about you if you enjoy pushing yourself physically, then great, but if you prefer to examine the wildlife and bask in the sun, then do that.
There you go, that is it for now, hope it has provided more of a practical approach to starting hiking and breaking through that mental barrier.