Hike – to heal. In a person’s recovery from physically and emotionally traumatic events, it is common to struggle with depression, anxiety, feelings of being disconnected, sensing a loss of purpose, and hills and valleys of emotions.
Those hills and valleys can take you to the depths of sorrow at times.
I often get asked, “How do you work surrounded all the time by such tragedy and depressing events? Doesn’t it get to you?”
First, there’s nothing tragic about assisting someone out of human trafficking or exploitation, but, I get the question. When we hear about the horrific methods of control, abuse, torture, and intimidation that many of our clients have experienced, there sometimes is a darkness that wants to settle over your soul. When you see people struggle so hard to overcome a lifetime of trauma, and when you help bear their burdens, you do have to take cautions that you don’t get pulled down to a dangerous place emotionally or spiritually.
In many cases, we do our best to take the same advice we give to our clients suffering from trauma and immense struggles.
Push back the emotional and spiritual darkness by utilizing these incredibly helpful activities: 1. Talk to trusted people to let out the emotions. Addressing sorrowful or anxious emotions is difficult, but it is a valuable deposit in your recovery and wellbeing. Depart from negative people, and surround yourself with people who have attributes you’d like to develop or increase in yourself.
2. Be consistent in regular routines to bring about accomplishment. Even small steps, when consistent, provide a return on your investment over time.
3. Get plenty of rest and eat well. During dark nights of the soul – turn off the phone and the computer and go to bed. Pray or read until you finally find sleep if that is what it takes to keep you still and unplugged. The more time a person spends online or plugged into the electronic world, the more likely they are to experience depression. It also leads to fogginess and tiredness the next day, which leads to less action taken for change, which leads to less accomplishment – which leads to increased depression. It’s a vicious cycle that can be broken one day at a time until new habits are developed. 4. Each day, open God’s Word and let His Scripture have a place in your life. You may not understand everything in the Bible at once, and it’s not required that you do. Whether you read a Proverb a day or a Psalm a day, each moment spent reading in the Word is never a wasted moment. It’s beginning the habit of developing a new discipline that will also reap rewards as you remain consistent. His Word reveals wisdom about love, grace, redemption, forgiveness, guidance, and the identity we have in Christ. It’s a beautiful contrast to the lies the enemy whispers, and it only is most effectively revealed to us when we seek Him out personally.
5. Finally, get out in nature and hike. Physically challenged? Don’t let it stop you. Hikes can be short or long – easy or vigorous. New to hiking? Every journey has a starting point!
Benefits of physical exercise in nature: Exercise enhances both psychological and physiological health, and research shows that connecting with nature can assist a person in relieving stress, improves feelings of revitalization, and increases senses of gratitude, admiration for creation, and interest in the surroundings and environment.
To provide a summary, hiking, or other forms of moderate outdoor exercise can lead to improved outlooks, decreased depression, enhanced physical strength, and can also help a person lift out of a fog of depression or low self-esteem.
From our faith-based standpoint, we recognize that God provides an abundance of opportunity for us to heal and to rebuild emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.
Hiking for healing – we recommend it for our clients, we recommend it for ourselves. Hiking is great for parents who want to help their teens unplug from numerous hours a day online. Hiking is helpful for people struggling with trauma, with divorce, with burdens that seem too heavy to carry at the time. Hiking may also be a social activity and way to nurture relationships and find social relief while also exploring the beautiful outdoors. Lastly, hiking is a terrific way to unwind and de-stress for those who are on the front lines, facing stress, emotional highs and lows, and crisis needs on a regular basis.
Hiking for Healing Fundraiser
Would you like to host a fundraiser for a non-profit you applaud or support? Hiking for healing is an ideal way to spread awareness among your friends and to support the efforts of charities. It’s a simple process – simply hand out note cards or make an online flyer with information about the non-profit you’re supporting, and then ask friends to sponsor you a dollar amount per mile you hike on a specific day or week. It’s a fun and effective way to leverage your own continued healing and love for outdoors to help ease the suffering of others.
In the Ozarks, we're blessed with some of the most amazing trails. These trails range from easy to stroll on to moderate and advanced. Hiking for healing is a method of reconnecting with purpose, developing holistic strength and health, and taking time to breathe and process. The added benefit that you go to bed tired at night is a definite plus! I hope you enjoy this small gallery of hiking pictures and trails my family has enjoyed this year. For this Thanksgiving post, the hiking trails of the Ozarks is certainly at the top of my thankful list!
Author: Casey Alvarez Casey is the Founder and Executive Director of GO:61. She enjoys leading community citizens and professionals to find their footing in leveraging their talents and knowledge to combat trafficking. Casey coordinates the GO;61 teams, provides human trafficking training, creates anti-trafficking curriculum, and serves as a victim case manager. Apart from abolitionism, she loves being a wife and mother and enjoys getting away to remote places with her family.