From mental agility to self-awareness, mountain-climbing has more psychological perks in store for us than we realize.
True, the physical aspect of this rigorous exercise is hard to ignore. But a mountaineer reaps a lot more benefits for their mental health than just the physical accomplishment.
Climbing a mountain is as much a physical challenge as it is a spiritual experience, which leaves a lasting impact on your mental health. More than one aspect of this adventure has an effect on the psychological condition. The scenery, exertion, failures, successes, and strength required for climbing a mountain determine the health and happiness of the person post-trek.
Here are a few psychological perks of climbing mountains.
At every hurdle, you face while navigating through difficult terrain, it is the mind which gives up before the body.
Cajoling your mind into believing the final destination is just a few steps ahead and continuing the journey this way is an accomplishment in itself.
More than the trek itself, the challenge is about preparing your brain for the obstacles ahead. Bending your will power according to the need of the situation is not an easy task.
Succeeding in doing that will save you from the trauma of facing a tragedy or difficulty in future because you’ll learn to fight your way through.
Attention Restoration Therapy (ART)
ART is associated with the adventure of mountain climbing. This theory discusses two categories of attention, namely directed and involuntary.
Directed attention is required for tasks like solving a math equation or reading passage.
Natural landscapes stimulate involuntary attention by inculcating the ability to see far ahead without getting bogged down by closer obstacles. Studies suggest that this enables mountaineers to require a high level of prospect and low level of refuge to feel happy.
The experience becomes restorative when the expanse of the land is large with minimal obstructions in the middle. It restores attentiveness and clarity which contributes to overall wellbeing.
Sadness, Anger & Concentration
Reaching heights that are above all vegetation and tree lines is a beautiful experience which allows one to see an unobstructed vision.
Psychologists Gatersleben and Andrews concluded that such a view heals grief and reduces the chances of being angry.
High altitudes are also good for learning because they enhance concentration due to the high-prospect-low-refuge environment.
Awe and Thought Stimulation
Standing in front of a peak that rises beyond the limit of your sight instills feelings of awe. The experience of feeling insubstantial and insignificant in the presence of larger-than-life natural structures triggers a process of self-reflection and thinking.
The pattern of thought —one following the other —makes the trekking experience more philosophical than physical. Hikers have reported that the kind of reflections they experience within the mountains doesn’t happen anywhere else.
The writer frequently writes blogs about psychology and mountaineering and often also pens down the therapeutic impact of mountain-climbing.