If there is one feeling I wish I could package up and share with the world, it would be the way nature makes me feel. I have never felt more alive, free and strong in myself than when standing on top of a mountain. The wind blowing around me, clouds shifting to give way to a beautiful sunset, my heart and lungs beating. I literally feel on top of the world. There’s something about the wind, the flow of water from rivers and the vast expanse of the wilderness, that makes me feel afraid and protected, vulnerable and confident at the same time. It’s almost as though, in the whispers of the wind, I know everything is exactly how it should be and I don’t need to worry about a thing.
Mountains For The Mind
This blog is created in partnership with Berghaus and Trail Magazine’s Mountains For The Mind Campaign launched in 2019 to champion the power of the outdoors to change lives. With 1 in 4 people suffering with mental health issues, and the outdoors being scientifically proven to be a powerful natural antidepressant, Berghaus and Trail asked me to share my story with discovering a passion for adventure and why I believe the mountains have so much to offer us physically, mentally and emotionally.
FYI: I’m giving away a Berghaus jacket to facilitate your adventures in the outdoors - see at the bottom! Also some suggestions for micro adventures and my fave places in the UK to head outdoors.
The way nature makes me feel
The best medicine for my own mental health is this feeling. For me, it has become a natural drug of sorts, I can’t imagine living without the way nature makes me feel. I’m an adventure athlete living in London, but a few years ago my life looked very different to how it is now. I was stuck in an unfulfilling 9-5 sales job dreaming of a life of adventure, but not knowing how to make it happen. I fell in love with the outdoors and specifically the UK’s incredible mountains in Scotland, Snowdonia, and The Lake District, whilst looking for an outlet to pour my energy into that wasn’t being satisfied by my job. In my early twenties, I remember feeling very limited by the world and it’s plan for me. All I saw were boxes that I had to fit into and other people trying to define who I was and what I was capable of achieving.
Don’t let the world define you
This didn’t seem right to me, so I decided to take my life into my own hands and discovered a passion for the outdoors and challenging myself. Being outside is a powerful natural antidote to the stress of modern culture and the lack of engagement and fulfilment many of us feel in our daily lives. It’s incredibly powerful to give yourself permission to be exactly as you are, but not only that, to know who you are outside of the many roles you play in society. Our society and especially social media, feeds into our insecurities of feeling like we are not enough: not good enough, not achieving enough, not doing enough. When I come home from a weekend in the hills, I feel like I am enough and it’s this feeling I want more people to access for themselves.
The Power of Pressing Pause
When I return from a hike or time spent outdoors, I feel refreshed, calm and beaming from the experience. Who knew that running around in the fells on a gloomy day could be so much fun? These are smiles that money can’t buy! Nature gives you an opportunity to press pause on everything else and focus on enjoying the moments as they unfold. Pressing pause and learning to be present leaves us feeling refreshed and ready to take on life again.
One of the biggest transformations I’ve experienced through the outdoors is with my confidence. Growing up I always struggled with figuring out how to be true to myself and also be accepted by my peers. The first time I climbed a mountain, it was a light bulb moment! I remember thinking that this was the most amazing thing I’ve done with my life and I felt something change in my heart and mind. Courage. For me, courage, confidence and resilience underpin every single thing we do or say in our lives. They determine how we respond when things go wrong, the way we view ourselves, the relationships we build and how far we can go in our mission for personal growth and creating a life we love. The outdoors enables us to practise dealing with adversity and this builds confidence and courage. What an amazing journey to go on!
Lessons with Mother Nature
Over the last 10 years, the mountains have become my classroom, my sanctuary and the place I escape to when I need to find space and clarity in my mind. I crave the wilderness; the feeling of it, the lessons it teaches me and the person it enables me to be. The mountains make me feel strong in myself and give me experiences that bring me life! Experiences I look back on and smile. Experiences that feed my soul and create adventure, whatever adventure means on that particular trip.
Outside is free
Being outside is a huge part of my mental health management strategy because it’s the place I feel most alive. I love doing something positive for myself, in the environment that makes me come alive, with my friends and family, or on my own. I love being wrapped in silence far away from our busy world. And in our demanding, non-stop lives, silence is hard to come by but so needed. Nature teaches me that the simplest things can be incredibly powerful, and above all, I cannot get over the fact that we can access all of this for free
5 Accessible Micro-Adventure Ideas:
Organise a walk with your friends and family and have a picnic or BBQ eating al-fresco!
Wild camp under the stars
Find a coastal, forest or mountain trail you want to hike and challenge yourself to do it in sections over your weekends
Swap your usual social activity of going shopping, to the cinema, out for drinks etc and instead find a local wild swimming spot to head to with your friends. Take water and a picnic and a make a day of swimming, lying in the grass and feeling the nature’s peaceful presence around you, take the time to relax and press pause on the hustle and bustle of your life and enjoy where you are and who you are with!
My 5 Fave UK Mountains to Explore:
The Isle of Skye and The Cuillins, Scotland
Ben Nevis and Glen Coe, Scotland
The Peak District; Mam Tor, Kinder Scout, Stanage Edge
The Lake District
WIN A BERGHAUS JACKET!
To inspire your adventures in the outdoors, I’ve teamed up with Berghaus and Trail Mag to give one lucky person a Berghaus Changtse waterproof jacket (as worn by me in these pics). The Changtse is the ultimate in wet weather protection. With endurance and durability at its core, this Gore-Tex jacket is a next-generation waterproof, delivering outstanding protection and breathability for all-season mountaineering and strenuous mountain walks.