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All things biking All things hiking Health and wellbeing

What is wellness?

“Wellness is the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes, so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving. To understand the significance of wellness, it’s important to understand how it’s linked to health”

The whole concept of wellness was never something I really thought to define before the COVID-19 pandemic created a new focus on mental wellbeing. We’ve never really sat down and put into words the “wellness” aspects of our trips, but people do keep coming back so we must be doing something right.

Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. For example, doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can have lots of positive effects. It can:

‘We’re outdoor creatures,’ says Dominic Higgins, the first ever nature and wellbeing manager at The Wildlife Trusts.  ‘We’re built to be outside,’ he explains. ‘All the evidence shows that too much time spent away from green space can lead to chronic stress and other issues.’

what is wellness?

Photo by: Andrew Weild

Most of us have experienced the sense of calm that comes with time spent in the countryside. The fresh air and distractions of nature soothe the mind, and anxieties can be forgotten, however temporarily.

It’s no surprise then that a growing number of health professionals, community workers, naturalists and academics are advocating the use of ‘green therapy’ – time spent immersed in nature – to help those living with mental health difficulties. For example, in Shetland the GPs can prescribe nature for their patients.

‘Nature is therapy,’ Claire Hector, Green Army says. ‘It frustrates me that modern life has become about boxing ourselves up, removing ourselves from nature. It’s sensory deprivation, really. I’m hoping that people are beginning to recognise the vital importance of nature and the wild for our brain health.”

what is wellness

Socially distanced Munro baggers hearing off to the mist

We might not have the right vocabulary to describe our trips and the essence of our business in terms of “wellness”, but this is what we end up providing for our guests – even if many of them wouldn’t put it in these terms either.

Aspects of wellness

Social Connectednesswalking in a group has more benefits than walking alone. Topics of conversation during the days out on our trips are extremely wide ranging. The guests often come back to base satisfied that they’ve fixed global issues!
Exercise – we’re made to walk so walking while chatting with others doesn’t always feel like a “get fit chore”. In fact, miles can slip away without too much effort.
Nutrition – there’s nothing like fresh air and exercise to make you appreciate your meals when you get back and we make sure that you have a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. (I’m always surprised by guests – who eat with us whether they’re on a trip or not – who say that they appreciate the vegetables because they haven’t been served much in the way of vegetables during their time in Scotland.)
Sleep – we’ve taken care to make sure the mattresses and curtains are top quality. That on top of the high quality outdoor exercise means that there’s little problem with sleep here.
Mindfulness  – now this might be the one part of wellness which we don’t pay much attention to – but there’s nothing like hiking on rough ground to concentrate the mind. Climbing is the same. No time to think of anything else except where you’re going to put your hands and feet. Really concentrates the mind.
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” mindful.org
what is wellness

Cliffs of the Cairngorm peaks. Mecca for climbers

So if you’re thinking about taking a break from the city – remember it’s healthy to get outdoors, not just physically but mentally too and though we don’t talk about “wellness” in connection with any of our trips – it’s definitely as part of them. More than a part in fact – it’s central.

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