POST TRAIL DEPRESSION

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Submitted Date 01/31/2020
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I got back from hiking over 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and found myself in the same position may hikers find themselves in. Despite my effort, I fell face first into Post-Trail Depression.

Before I started the trail, I planned my next goal: I was going to train for a bodybuilding competition. That was the solution I found for my need to have a physical challenge and a goal to aim for. I thought this would be an inoculation for PTD. I was wrong.

Staying active after getting back from the trail is a must, but it felt so different. The world around me had changed. It all seemed artificial and unnecessary. I searched for the wild places when I parked in a parking lot and when I walked up the stairs to my apartment in Beaverton, Oregon. I searched for the wild places within odd jobs I picked up as a freelancer. I found it only in the whispers and pockets within the small forest park that bordered my apartment complex.

As far as I know, the void created after leaving the trail affects every hiker whether or not they finished an entire thru hike.

These tips to remedy PTD are universal and can be used to help anyone get out of a hump. These have helped me and I hope they spark some inspiration in you.

Find purpose
Day in and day out, thru hikers have a purposeā€”a goal. We wake up and strap our gaiters on for a reason. We have a mission.
What can you do to find your mission? A purpose? You can start small and take up a new hobby or explore one you've been meaning to revisit. Art, music, and other new hobbies await!
Make meaningful connections
The trail community is full of like-minded people who share your love for hiking and exploring. Volunteering for trail work, or for anything meaningful, is a great start. Meetup groups help you make new connections and friendships. You'll also engage in activities and stay active in a group setting.
Get outside as much as possible
This is probably my favorite. If the weather isn't ideal, wear the proper clothing and get out there! Nature therapy has repeatedly come up in studies that dive into mental health issues. Disconnect from screens and devices (that can turn into unhealthy coping mechanisms) and connect to the landscape. Let yourself feel awe.
Start a gratitude journal
Gratitude is powerful. Every day write three things you're grateful for. Create a habit. I swear, this is the secret to happiness.

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