My passion for hiking: Why ‘unplugging’ is important for your mental health in the digital age

I’m enjoying my five minutes of fame today as the star of the Yorkshire Post business supplement’s popular ‘My Passion’ feature. The piece celebrates my love of hiking as a 20-something young professional and shares the physical and mental health benefits:


Like most of my friends I like to keep fit and look after my mental health. While the gym is a handy mid-week workout, I prefer to get outdoors and up mountains.


I grew up and still live in Skipton so have easy access to both the Dales and the Lake District. I’ve also always spent a lot of time in my ‘second home’ of Scotland where some of my family live, and it was these surroundings that cemented my love of rugged, mountainous countryside from a young age.
My family have always been keen walkers, but it wasn’t until I reached my twenties that I really found my passion for the Fells and started challenging myself to do much more than the odd rural stroll in the Dales with the dog. Once I started trying out some tougher terrain, I soon got the hiking bug and it’s now something I spend most of my weekends and holidays doing. From wild camping in the Cairngorms with my Dad to Sunday trips to the Lake District with my boyfriend, I’ve tackled some of the most challenging climbs in the UK. My current challenge is ticking off all of the Lake District’s Wainwrights and Scotland’s Munros.


The great thing about my mountain treks – besides the pub lunch at the end – is how exhilarating and satisfying it is when you reach the summit. While I never miss an opportunity for a mountain top Instagram snap, there is something so refreshing about ‘unplugging’ from the digital world to go hiking. My job and a lot of my personal life revolves around social media and staying connected, so to just switch off and focus on walking and enjoying the surroundings is great for both my physical and mental health. I also love planning my next walk as it gives me something to focus on, get excited about, and train for.


It’s even starting to rub off on my colleagues. Last week, we celebrated my five year anniversary at Engage Comms by going on a team walk. It also happened to be Mental Health Awareness Week and the chance to get out of the office as a team helped us to reconnect and recharge for a busy few weeks ahead.


Walking isn’t known for being a younger person’s pastime but it’s starting to get more popular with 20-somethings and it’s not surprising. Hiking is a great way to beat stress, boost energy, build strength, and improve your mood, concentration and clarity – and Yorkshire is one of the best places to start. I’d recommend it to anyone with an office-based job who wants to enjoy the benefits of working out, ‘unplugging’, nature and travel in an all-in-one activity.

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