Post-hike blues: Why are returns from the mountains so painful?
Sunrises and sunsets in absolute silence. Mountain sunshine and millions of stars. A new adventure every minute. Endless views of breathtaking landscapes and new friendships with the most extraordinary souls.
All the worries of everyday life were a distant echo, the only challenge was how to get from point A to point B. Confident that you wouldn't be held up by the typical traffic chaos you might experience every weekday morning on your way to work. And that feeling when you reach the end of the journey. After dozens, maybe even hundreds of kilometres on mountain trails, you're finally there. That pride overwhelms you, you deserve it.
After many miles in hiking boots, you return home. To your warm shower, to your stocked fridge, to your soft bed, to your familiar surroundings.
But something is different. Something is missing and a strange emptiness surrounds you. The mundane duties that were previously an accepted stereotype are suddenly eating you alive. And the more you think about it, the more it hurts. Life seems monotonous, empty, meaningless. And the feeling of contentment? That seems unattainable.
Don't worry, nothing terrible is happening. You're just battling something called the post-hike blues.
Why does post-hike blues exist?
The most important thing you need to understand at this point is that post-hike blues is a natural feeling. It is a common experience that millions of people around the world have gone through, and it doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with you. Coming back to the real world, where completely different values play a key role than up there, presents too stark a contrast to just overlook it and not give it some thought.
1.We connected with nature, but we had to return to the chaos of everyday life
Hiking is not just about physical exercise, it's also about connecting with nature. And that is something that can hardly be described in words and that can become very intensely imprinted in our inner being. We connect with beauty, we find peacefulness and everyday life seems extremely chaotic after a few days in such an environment. There are too many stimuli all around and too many distractions that we have become so accustomed to in our lives that we only become aware of them when we leave the environment for a while.
2. We have reached our destination and now we have nowhere to go
Reaching the destination of a journey, be it the top of a mountain or the end point of a long trek, is something that can really fill us with pride. However, even athletes know all too well that the hardest time to find motivation is often in the first few weeks after the biggest achievements. The things we've been preparing for weeks or months, the moments we've been replaying in our heads. The things that motivated us to get up every morning. All of that is suddenly gone. And once we return to our normal lives, it can take some time to define a new goal.
3. We met great people, our blood type
One of the greatest benefits of long-term treks and expeditions is that on these trips you meet and get to know people who are somehow naturally of a similar blood type. It is therefore often in the mountains and in nature that very strong friendships are formed. Returning from the mountains, among "ordinary mortals", one can therefore easily feel alone. And feeling alone among people is the most difficult form of loneliness.
4. There is nowhere to escape
Time in nature is the best way to escape from everyday stress. Here we disconnect from digital reality and largely live only in the present moment. Returning to screens, responsibilities and a normal work routine is all the more difficult.
How to get rid of the post-hike blues and move forward?
This feeling is not eternal. It's just a transitory state that sooner or later will subside. And although this phase is disheartening and painful, it naturally belongs to life and to extraordinary moments. It means that what we have experienced has been worth it. So at the very outset, it's useful to acknowledge that what you're experiencing is a natural part of the whole adventure. That it is meant to be. And that if one doesn't experience those feelings, one hasn't made the most of the moments out there.
1. Reflect back with gratitude
Don't focus on the fact that it's over, but on what it was. Remember all the experiences that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Remember the views, the moments with friends and people who crossed your path during your adventure, but also the obstacles you overcame that naturally come with any such journey.
2. Define new goals
Life is about endless discovery, and just because something has just ended doesn't mean that something new can't start tomorrow. Use this phase as an opportunity to define new goals. Plan your next trip, get inspired by others, read about places that could be your new motivation. Do you know what the opposite of the post-hike blues is? The anticipation of something new.
3. Connect with the community
Whether in person or online, connect with a community of people who share similar interests as you. Share your experiences in the mountains that maybe your friends, family or colleagues weren't so interested in, listen to others' experiences, be inspired by others' adventures. Maybe you'll take away a tip for a great trip and maybe you can plan something together.
4. Nature isn't just majestic mountains, it's everywhere around us
If the concrete jungle stresses you out, remember that nature can be at your fingertips and maybe all you need to do is open your eyes. Even the city is full of opportunities to connect with nature. Sit on a park bench, take a walk around the lake, extend your walk with your dog by a few minutes. Even brief moments of connection with nature can uplift your temporarily demotivated soul. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Everything has an end. So don't be broken by the feelings described by the phrase post-hike blues. The feelings you experience are an integral part of every journey. Just as every mountain has its base and peak, life has its peaks and valleys. And the post-hike blues are the best reminder of the power and influence nature can have on our lives.