View Full Version : How do you..?

01-27-2018, 14:45
I suffer from pretty bad anxiety but love hiking and being out in the woods. My anxiety keeps me from hiking alone and would love to have a hiking buddy. Does anyone else have the problem and how do you manage it?
Any help would be greatly appreciated

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01-27-2018, 15:19
I can't relate in that I have no anxiety of being in the woods alone ... it is crowds that make me anxious. However, you should be able to find someone to hike with, possibly even here on WB ... however it would be helpful to know what kind of hiking you do, miles per day, where you want to hike ... things like that.

01-27-2018, 15:50
It depends on what your anxiety is. My anxiety is also more related to dealing with people, so I moved to the woods to escape people. My people anxiety remains as strong as ever in town. But, on the trail, I can manage to talk to people, find things in common. The casual wave, greet, chat and move along is about perfect for me.

My initial hiking anxiety was concern about bears. I was able to educate myself and realize the bear attack risks in my area were tiny and easily mitigated. Didn't keep me from getting anxious when I first started eating lunch in the woods, but with repetition I was able to worry less and less about bears. Today, I'm confident that my bear mitigation strategies work, and the bear anxiety is gone.

What is it about hiking that you love, and what parts specifically make you anxious? Getting lost? Wild animals? Attacking madmen? Fear of starvation? How does having a partner relieve your anxiety?

A healthy dose of anxiety is fine, it can be as simple as anticipation, or making sure you have all the safety equipment you're likely to need, and know how to use it. Education and preparation can solve this kind of anxiety. The creeping anxiety that you flat out know on one level makes no sense, yet it cripples you anyway... that's a lot harder to deal with. Baby steps.

You can find group hikes locally on Meetup, you can go to the really popular trails on weekends, you might even have some luck advertising for a hiking buddy on a dating site (I've had mixed success on dating sites looking for a hiking buddy.)

Feral Bill
01-27-2018, 15:51
It seems likely that Philadelphia has some hiking clubs with group outings. Start there.

01-27-2018, 16:20
We can't say with any reliability without knowing the root cause(s) of the anxiety. It does seem you feeling anxious about not hiking alone is a symptom not the cause. Addressing the cause(s) should be the ultimate goal.

It could also be you're mistaking something else like having a fear or phobias sometimes labeled worry for anxiety or anxiety is the resulting heaviness - a symptom - caused by a fear...such as the fear of being alone.

01-28-2018, 18:51
I still have somewhat of bear anxiety but itís probably cut in half if not more from when I started about 5 years ago. General anxiety fights me every day and I take herbal supplements to limit it. My huge issue is sleeping at night. It seems like unless Iím up above 15 miles for the day Iím wide awake. I thought hiking with the dog would help that but the most weíve done in a day for a single overnight is about 7 miles and it wasnít hard at all. If you are dead tired no time to be worried.

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01-29-2018, 03:59
Try the Lord’s Prayer, they both require a bit of faith.

01-29-2018, 07:16
Like others, being around people escalates my anxiety. I hike alone.

01-29-2018, 08:29
Face your fears. Hike with others, camp near others. Then when you feel better doing that, you should move your campsite further away and hike alone part of the day. Do this all slowly. In the end you should try sleeping alone in the woods. I notice each year when I head North from Springer that some of the Thru-hike class have that same problem. A month later and they feel better about being alone. I have no such fear but I do prefer the company of others.

01-29-2018, 08:54
It does make it more difficult if you always need a partner or group, but that can be found. You can join meetup and other groups to meet hikers and get going
Your hiking-related anxiety should get slightly better as you go more often, but hard to say!

Old Hiker
01-29-2018, 09:13
I would have to know the buddy VERY well before hiking long distances with him/her. I mean, months if not years. My paranoia, MUCH worse than anxiety, keeps me shy and aloof from people for the most part.

I've had maybe ONE person I trusted to that extent. Maybe two, but #2 didn't do the outdoors.

I actually feel safer by myself, not having to worry about anyone else.

Gambit McCrae
01-29-2018, 09:14
I can relate...Practice makes perfect, and rationalizing that all is well on the trail

01-29-2018, 09:16
I don't have anxiety, but I do (still) have a slight fear of bears. I have educated myself. There is lots of experience on this board as well as links to factual articles about bears. The stories you hear about bear encounters are likely exaggerated, and if you consider how many people NEVER have incidents with bears you will realize that you are more likely to be hit by lightning or killed on the interstate on your way to go hiking. I am not afraid of lightning, nor am I afraid to drive on the interstates. Realizing this, and forcing myself to admit the facts or statistics of the issues, coupled with the time I've already spent in the woods NOT being eaten by a bear, I'm relaxing about it.

Last June, I was hiking solo, which I do about half the time, and I camped solo - which I rarely do - there's usually someone around on the AT. For the first time since I started hiking in 2014, I slept like a baby.

So my advice and/or opinion: educate yourself about what's real and what's not, look at yourself to see what your fears are and why the fears have become anxiety, then face them... best done with someone familiar with the process, like a counselor or a support group.

01-29-2018, 10:18
Well one of the better ways to help with anxiety is to physically push yourself when hiking. So long as you remain safe physical exertion.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

How does exercise help depression and anxiety?

Regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by:
Releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being
Taking your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety

Regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits, too. It can help you:
Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how you feel, or hoping depression or anxiety will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptom

01-30-2018, 10:14
Frankly, being alone in the woods is what helped me overcome my anxiety issues in every day life. When I'm out there walking and communing with nature I now feel completely at peace. Its really the only time I feel that good.

01-30-2018, 11:22
Like others, being around people escalates my anxiety. I hike alone.
My thoughts exactly. I'm more scared of people than bears or other critters.

01-30-2018, 11:34
Distance hiking is largely a solo activity.

I think the more you do it the more you'll get used to being alone. One day you'll probably come to like being alone. There's nothing in the woods that's going to hurt you.

01-31-2018, 07:49
Agree with those who have "bear anxiety". I hike alone 85% of the time and what gets me out there is the fact that my love of the mountains is way bigger than my fear of what could go wrong. Also, if I take time off work to go hiking then there's no way I'm not going to get my butt out on the trail and just end up wasting my PTO. We don't get it that easy so if I use it then it almost forces me to get out in the woods because I can't stand the thought of not utilizing what I get.

I was never hesitant about hiking alone until a bad bear experience and then I developed some anxiety after the fact.. So I guess my story isn't the standard version of anxiety pre-hiking alone. Sometimes I'd rather have a partner and sometimes I really enjoy being alone. I think it might have to do with wherever I'm currently at in life. Sometimes I need to unwind in peace by myself and sometimes I just need to enjoy the trail with other people. Who even knows :confused:

02-01-2018, 08:15
Distance hiking is largely a solo activity.

I think the more you do it the more you'll get used to being alone. One day you'll probably come to like being alone. There's nothing in the woods that's going to hurt you.

Except widow makers [emoji3]

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