“Hiking in nature provides an opportunity to tune in — both to our own experience and to the world around us. While it can be easy to get lost in thought or daydreams while hiking, the simple practices of mindfulness can draw us more closely into our experience of the natural world.”— Khalila Archer, Program Director at Inward Bound Mindfulness Education.
Spending time outdoors and in nature has been proven to lift and reduce stress. It can ease depression, boost our immune system, lower blood pressure, help concentration, and improve sleep quality. Plus, getting outside is a chance to stay physically active, which helps balance our overall well-being.
With our constant use of technology and shift in society, we have become more disconnected from nature, but that doesn’t change the fact that humans rely on the natural world. It is important to make the most of the outdoors during this time and be mindful of our relationship with nature. Jefferson Center’s Colorado Spirit team has some tips and suggestions to make your next hike a mindful hike!
If you’re looking for something on the easier side, this 2 miles out and back trail is located near Idledale, Colorado. It features a beautiful river, a stunning castle, amazing greenery, and plenty of wildflowers, and is a great choice for all skill levels.
TIP: Set an intention
- Before you even begin your hike, set the intention to have a mindful hike. Take a few deep breaths to bring your mind to the present moment. At the start of the trail, set the intention to try and keep your mind as clear as you can on your hike. If something, in particular, has been on your mind, try and let it go for the duration of the hike.
For those of you looking for a more advanced trail, Eldorado Canyon Trail is the perfect hike. This 6.6-mile out-and-back trail features a stunning waterfall. This trail is rated as moderate with some steep inclines, making it a great choice for more seasoned hikers.
TIP: Pause throughout your hike to reset
- It is easy to let our thoughts wander. If you notice your mind drifting, stop for a few moments to bring yourself back to the present moment. Take a few deep breaths and listen to your body. This could be a great time to hydrate or grab a snack.
This trail is great for people of all skill levels and ages! There are plenty of access points for the Clear Creek Trail, so you don’t necessarily need to start on the trailhead shown on the page. The trail is filled with lakes, parks, and spots to stop and enjoy beautiful scenic views filled with wildlife.
TIP: Focus on your sense
- Mindfulness is about being fully present and aware of our surroundings in the current moment. One of the best ways to do this is to bring awareness to your senses so you can be fully present. Try focusing on one singular sense at a time, like letting your eyes wander to take in all the sights or listening to the sounds of nature.
The Sloan’s Lake Loop is a great spot for a variety of different activities with spectacular views of the mountains. Whether you are looking to bird watch, enjoy a leisurely walk, or take your dog for a stroll, Sloan’s Lake Loop has it all. It is a 2.6-mile loop that is great for all skill levels.
TIP: Savor the Silence
- Walking in silence is a wonderful way to enjoy your hike. A period of silent hiking offers you an opportunity to consciously engage your senses, relax your mind, and focus on the present moment. Use this as an opportunity to tune in with yourself.
Hiking is just one of the many ways to get outdoors and enjoy nature. What is important is that you find what you love outdoors and do it, whether it is cloud watching, gardening, rollerblading, skateboarding, or simply walking around.
You can even take an indoor activity outdoors. Taking meals outside or calling friends and family on a walk are great ways to take indoor activities outside. This helps keep us grounded and keep us connected to nature in a mindful and unique way.
Ultimately, mindfulness is about staying in the present moment while focusing on the world around you while simultaneously accepting your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. As long as you keep that in mind you can practice mindfulness in any way that makes sense to your own routine or lifestyle.
Remember, Jefferson Center’s Colorado Spirit team is here for you. Offering free and confidential support around COVID-19, we can help you with counseling tips and strategies to cope successfully and referrals to additional mental health resources. Call us if you need to talk at 720-731-4689.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call 1-844-493-8255 or visit our 24/7 crisis walk-in center at 4643 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.