Empowerment and the Outdoors: What I Learned From a Week in the Woods

This past July, I spent seven days and six nights in the Sangre De Cristo mountain range of Colorado backpacking, rafting, orienteering, and facing new challenges. Whether you’re a big fan of camping multiple nights in the backcountry or enjoy a short hike every once in a while, getting outside and rebuilding your connection with nature is not only great for your mental health, but can also leave you feeling more empowered. 

  1. 1. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

    girl happy colorado travel hiking waterfall smile sunglasses hat

    Whether you’re lost in a forest without a trail or are hiking with a group you think may have taken a wrong turn, don’t be afraid to make your thoughts heard. During my experience, there were many times when I felt I should have spoken up for the better of the group, but didn’t, and ultimately learned from the experience. Being introverted or “soft-spoken” can often make it hard to vocalize your thoughts, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve encountered this mental crossroads, but don’t be afraid to speak your mind, it may be for your benefit in the future. 

  2. 2. Spending some time alone with your thoughts can be a much-needed break.

    Summer Girl Hawaii Yoga Hiking Exercise View

    It’s super easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the every day, especially given the lifestyle of an average college student. One of my favorite aspects of getting some exercise in the outdoors is the potential to be truly alone in your thoughts, and have some time to think with few external distractions. I have found that such time can also lead to realizations you otherwise may not have had; for example, I experienced some clarity with my major. 

  3. 3. Learning how you manage adversity can be scary but worth it.

    girl smile happy colorado travel mountains hiking trees

    Have you ever anticipated that something in the near future may be difficult and worried about how you would react? Spending some time in the outdoors, especially backpacking in the backcountry, can be particularly telling of your potential reaction. During my trip, I was challenged by practically every aspect of the experience: carrying a pack nearly half my size, spraining my ankle, cooking at high elevations, etc. However, one of the most rewarding aspects of the trip was realizing how I react in situations that challenge me. Personally, I found that I tend to keep my head down and push through difficult situations, but even that realization can help me to ask for more help in the future!

Spending some time outdoors can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Whether it involves learning more about yourself or even taking a hard-earned break from the stressors of everyday life, each endeavor is bound to be unique and worthwhile.