9 Reasons You Need More Hiking In Your Life

9 Reasons You Need More Hiking In Your Life

Why you need to spend more time outdoors and how it can drastically improve your life.
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Hiking and being outdoors is not only refreshing, but extremely rewarding. There are countless benefits of spending time outdoors and in the wilderness. We all need to take the time to reap the emotional, mental, and physical benefits from adventuring out into the mountains.

1. It's a mood booster.

Being outdoors and hiking is a well-known stress reliever. There are no worries in the forest -- just wide-open space and few people. When you're feeling anxious or stressed, get up and get outside. Completing a hike can be a total confidence-booster. Hiking can be a very empowering experience, especially when you conquer the hardest trails and reach your destination. It will elevate your mood and make you feel better no matter what demons you may be facing. This is one of the most positive and natural ways to cope with anxiety and stress. Nature doesn't care about what you look like, how much money you have, how much education and knowledge you have, what your career is, or any other aspect of your life. The best part about being outdoors is that you don't have to worry about what anyone else thinks of you; you can just be your 100% authentic self.

2. Exercise.

The great thing about getting outside is that there are so many different activities you can choose from, and every single outdoor activity can be scaled down to fit one's needs. You don't have to be an expert hiker to get outside. Start with what you have and with what you know and you will improve from there. Hiking is a great exercise and individuals of all fitness levels can participate. Start off with a shorter hike with less elevation, take your time and enjoy your surroundings. The more often you hike, the more confident you will be with the more challenging trails. The most important thing is getting outside and enjoying yourself.

3. Fresh air.

Fresh air is good for the soul. Once you're deep enough into the woods, there's a certain smell and freshness to the air that you can't find anywhere else. Being away from people and surrounded by the forest is a calming feeling. There's a quietness about nature that brings an overwhelming sense of peace. You get the chance to clear your mind and decompress. Rejuvenate your body and soul and take a moment to relax, let go of your insecurities and worries. Just be.

4. You learn to settle into your surroundings.

After I moved from my hometown where I've lived my entire life to a new city, one of the first things I did was get out and explore. Being in a new place and not knowing anybody or anything can be extremely daunting. It doesn't matter if you've lived somewhere for five years or five weeks; there are so many beautiful things to see and places to explore. By simply getting outside and taking in your surroundings, you can feel more connected to your environment and community as a whole.

5. It's a great way to connect with others.

Hiking can strengthen relationships and bring families and friends closer together. Instead of going out to lunch or go shopping with your family, pack everyone up and hit a trail. Everyone knows making friends can be hard, but when you and others both enjoy being outside and exploring, you can bond over your love of the earth and outdoors. I have made great friends and created stronger bonds with my family members by simply spending time outdoors together.

6. It's easily accessible.

Hiking is virtually free. You don't need fancy gear or equipment and you don't have to be an expert on the outdoors. There are numerous recreation passes and permits that need to be purchased for parking at certain trailheads. If that's your biggest expense, then $30 a year doesn't seem too excessive for all that you gain from the mountains. If $30 isn't in your budget, split it with some friends and family; you can put multiple license plate numbers on the permit. The money spent on recreation passes goes into the forest fund and they use this money for trail maintenance and other projects. For the most part, all you have to do is get to a trailhead and start walking. Just be sure to quickly educate yourself on how to have a safe and successful hike, and you're good to go.

7. You get a break from reality.

These days, we have smart phones and tablets loaded with social media apps. We are constantly texting, emailing, calling, FaceTiming, tweeting, Facebooking, Snapchatting and everything in between. Being away from cell service and the internet is extremely freeing. When you're outside and away from all of the distractions in life, it gives you time to contemplate and meditate. While hiking back down a trail, I always try to slow down and take in my surroundings, because the moment you get back to your car and drive home, you slip back into the busyness of life.

8. You gain independence.

Whether you're hiking, biking or walking, there are so many different activities that you can do independently. Learning how to enjoy time alone and away from others is extremely important because in the end, all you have is yourself. Spend time outside and learn more about yourself; be sure to take the time to find some clarity from within. Solo-hikes are a great way to familiarize yourself with nature. It's a warming feeling to journey deep into the woods alone and rely solely on yourself and your instincts.

9. Nature's beauty.

There are millions of trails on this planet waiting to be explored. The average life expectancy for Americans is about 80 years old, which translates to about 4,171 weeks, 29,200 days and 42,048,000 minutes. As cliche as it sounds, life is short. Enjoy all of the beauty that this world has to offer while you still can. Don't forget that our time here is limited and you choose how you spend each minute of every day. I encourage you to slow down and spend more time outdoors and don't take your time on earth for granted. Learning to be comfortable in your own skin, to be confident in your skills and capabilities and learning how to unapologetically be yourself are some of the benefits of spending time in the wilderness. You feel a sense of home and belonging when you're out in nature. Take in this feeling and apply it to your everyday life, and spread it to those you meet and better the entire planet. There's so much beauty in this world -- all you have to do is look around.


“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” – John Muir

Cover Image Credit: Madison Jones

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If You Still Don't Have These 8 Things In Your College Room, You're Doing It Wrong

Take it from a senior living in a residence hall, I know what I'm talking about.

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If this is your first semester or if this is your last, there are some things every college student should have in their room. Granted, some things are more of a convenience than a necessity, but, come on, you only live once, right?

1. Bluetooth speaker

Whether it's jamming to some study tunes, kicking it back with some chill beats on a Saturday night, or trying to block out the noise roommates down the hall, a Bluetooth speaker is a key piece of every good residence hall experience. You'll thank me later.

2. String lights

The easiest way to turn those glum room walls into your personal paradise is to hang string lights all around! If you are feeling particularly creative, adding some lights and print-out photos to an open wall creates the cutest memory board. Make sure to hang these below the sprinkler system if your hall has them!

3. Cute pillow(s)

Nothing makes your mostly-unmade bed look better than a cute throw pillow. Who cares if your comforter is crooked and falling off your mattress — you've got adorable pillows! Plus, they can be great to lay on when studying or watching movies in bed.

4. A fuzzy blanket

Nothing screams "college" like cuddling up in a soft blanket and procrastinating your homework. Whether it's for watching movies, wrapping up in while studying for that 8 AM exam, or just unwinding after a long day, a fuzzy blanket makes everything better.

5. Essential oil diffuser

Most residence halls don't allow candles or wax melters, but essential oil diffusers can be even better for you and for making your room smell great. You can even use certain oils when you aren't feeling well to help you get better sooner!

6. Reusable water bottle

Now, this is more of a college tip in general, but it is still extremely important. I find that when I buy a new reusable water bottle, I drink more water. Stay hydrated and reduce your eco-footprint by skipping the single-use plastic bottles.

7. Closet organizers

One of the hardest parts about moving into a college room is the closet space (or lack thereof). Go for practical. An over-the-door shoe rack, hanging cubby, multi shirt hanger, or jewelry pouch can maximize your space without forcing you to get rid of half your wardrobe.

8. Power Strip

I'm not talking about dinky little extension cords, no no, I'm talking power stips. These babies have saved me every semester of my college career. Many residence halls require them since they have surge protectors. Turn one outlet into five or more (some even have USB ports).

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Before You Cosmetically Tailor Your Dog, Make Sure You Do It for The Right Reasons

Do your research first.

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I have worked with a lot of dogs at a summer job as a dog daycare attendant, and I got to experience all the different versions of different breeds, but I didn't realize how much we tailor our dogs to make them look how we want. In some cases, it's just unnecessary for the animal.

What really led me down the rabbit hole of how many different breeds we dock tails, crop ears, and remove dew claws is the Doberman Pinscher. With this breed, all of the above is done. Dobermans are known for their fierce look, but mainly because of their pointy ears.

But do you know there is a process to get the ears to stand up after cropping?

After undergoing surgery, which and lead to painful results if not properly performed, the ears must be taped. That's right, taped up with foam blocks to keep the ears erect. This process can last weeks, and even up to a year according to petcarerx.com. This process seems tedious, and something I personally won't go through one day because I do want to own this breed one day, but it depends on how you go about it. Selecting the right vet that will perform this is crucial. Otherwise, it could go wrong.

In the same article, it does describe the benefits of ear cropping, such as being able to hear more acutely and hygiene, but it comes down to whether or not you are going to show the dog. Owners want their dogs to win, so in order for them to win, and win big, they have to abide by certain standards.

In some cases it is beneficial, and dogs don't experience a lot of pain if it's done at an early age. As if certain breeds like Dobermans aren't huge and intimidating on their own, I don't think cropping is necessary in most cases. It could go wrong, and be even more costly, to owner and dog.

Now I am not saying showing your dog is wrong; I think it can be a fun sport for both owners and pets. It's just the idea behind tailoring a breed physically, by removing what they are born with. Spaying and neutering I understand, but cosmetic surgeries I have a hard time understanding, but the more I read, the more it depends on the breed and preference of the owner.

It's kind of like people in a way, all of us tailoring our looks to conform to a certain standard. Instead of putting our pets through it, love the body they are in, a lesson we could all use, but if you feel it could benefit the dog in some way because some parts dogs don't even need, like dew claws, which could be a nuisance rather than benefit.

Just treat your dog right, and do what you feel is safe and right for them. I know there has been a lot of controversy on this topic, and I'm on the fence when it comes to it sometimes, but there is evidence that it can be helpful, and harmful. Depending on your case and dog, do what you think is best for man's best friend.

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