Coping with cabin fever as a hiker during a lockdown

Picture the scene, it’s a beautiful winters day. It’s hiking season and the sun is shining and the mountains are calling your name. You sit excitedly staring out the window at work, counting each second until you can reach that perfect summit climb, breathe in that fresh mountain air and feel the dirt beneath the soles of your trusty old hiking boots. As you pack your bags that afternoon, another lockdown is announced and your dreams of watching that perfect sunrise and chasing waterfalls are suddenly crushed along with all your other plans for the next few days or weeks. Your life is yet again plunged into uncertainty as Brisbane is put into another lockdown. Plans of visiting loved ones and catching up with friends are suddenly turned into yet another night of anxiously checking google for COVID-19 cases and hotspot locations.  

I am sure many hikers can relate to feeling something similar. On top of all the uncertainty caused for everyone by COVID-19, feelings of anxiousness, couped up indoors and missing out on a beautiful day can be very frustrating. So, when experiencing a quarantine sponsored ‘cabin fever’ what can you do to cope?

·         Give yourself a routine and stick to it: When you don’t have work and hiking to fill in your time, it is important to maintain some form of a routine. Lack of routine can cause disruptions in eating, sleeping and activity. Following a routine can help you to feel in control and guard against feelings of hopelessness and boredom.

·         Following a healthy diet: A healthy balanced diet is important for both your physical wellbeing and mental health. Following a healthy diet during longer lockdown periods will also help to you to maintain a healthy weight and remain in good shape until you can return to those beloved mountains.

·         Stay physically active: Regular exercise helps keep the body fit and releases chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. Why not go for a walk to your local park? It may not be as good as that 12km waterfall circuit you hiked last week, but at least you it gets your body moving. Perhaps use the time at home focus on core strength with a resistance band  or training plates within a tactec plate carrier and a few body weight exercises, this will help you to hike longer and be stronger when carrying a heavy overnight pack.  

·         Spend time in nature: Spending time in nature helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Although the National Parks are currently closed, why not find some other ways to enjoy nature? Perhaps there is a local council reserve within 10km of your home where you can enjoy a short walk through some greenery whilst still abiding to local quarantine regulations.

·         Maintain a sleep routine: Try to maintain a healthy sleep routine. Although this may vary among individuals, try to go to bed and wake up at a reasonable time. This will help keeping you refreshed and avoid throwing out your sleep pattern.

·         Learn a new skill: Now that you have more time on your hands, why not learn a new skill? Perhaps you have always wanted to learn how to read a topographic map or how to navigate offtrack without a GPS or maybe you might want to learn how to dehydrate food. 

·         Socialize Virtually: Try to remain in contact with family and friends virtually. It may not be the same as in person but at least you can still provide each other with emotional support.

Connect with other fellow hikers via Facebook and Instagram. There are various bushwalking clubs and Facebook groups where you can share your passion for hiking with others. 

Go easy on yourself, the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone. Adapting to a new way of life is hard. Relax and focus on the positives ahead. There is always another day and there is always another hike. 

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