For introverts, hiking is a great way to detox from the people-y world out there.
The crunch of autumn leaves beneath my feet. A gorgeous mountain view in front of my eyes. The crisp smell of fresh air, pinecones, outside, silence… I’m in my happy place. Ahhhhh, nature. Hiking is just one of those things: I can submerge myself in the wilderness, remove myself from a too-people-y society, and just enjoy the world. It’s the ultimate elixir for introverts.
Being an introvert comes with some difficulties: loud, talkative things my friends like to do turn me off. Instead, taking a hike is a perfect way to spend an autumn day.
And unplugging from our technology-infused lives is always a good idea. (We introverts love unplugging from social media and abandoning our cell phones. It’s liberating. Hiking or not, try it sometime!) All that said, there are six reasons I love hiking as an introvert.
6 Reasons I Love Hiking as an Introvert
1. It’s healing — you can have all the quiet you want and live in your head for a while.
Early on, introverts learn that the regular old world just doesn’t work for us. It’s too loud, too noisy, too fast, and too people-y — when all we want, and need, is alone time immersed in quiet and our own heads. Without anyone talking to us. Please.
But being in nature feels like resetting something deep within me. Forest bathing — a practice of immersing yourself intentionally in nature and letting your five senses guide you to connect with nature — has numerous health benefits.
Going for a hike, even a short one, makes me feel like I’ve reset a part of my body. It gets my blood pumping, my heart beating, and my body happily doing exercise and breathing in fresh air. Even more so, according to science, nature can even cure overthinking! Um, YAY!!
Being on a mountain is like going on a quest. It’s going on a quest for silence, gives me time to spend time in my own brain, and lets me breathe in fresh air. It’s quiet, it’s soothing. There’s no one I have to talk to, but there’s still rich sensory details I can enjoy. Being in nature gives me exactly what I need.
2. You can have as much space as you desire for daydreaming (which introverts love to do).
What could possibly be better than being alone with a book? Being alone with trees, a trek, and a view.
Introverts are daydreamers. Due to chemical differences in our brains, introverts tend to enjoy quieter, calmer environments. This usually translates to spaces with less people: Hello, woods! For me, going for a walk feels like breathing, and gives me space to unpack my day, hold imaginary conversations, make up stories, and just think.
While walking is great, of course, hiking goes a step farther — no pun intended — by providing material for daydreams. The city I live in is filled with annoying car horns, chatter, flashing lights, and sirens, all of which make it hard to concentrate. But wandering through the woods holds the opposite effect.
First of all, it’s beautifully quiet. Next, things like fragrant flowers, brilliant fall foliage, or a gorgeous mountainside won’t distract me from what I’m thinking about. Instead, these things ask me to contemplate them: what the mountain looks like, how the flower smells, the texture of the crisp autumn leaves in my fingertips.
Instead of scaring me away from my daydreams, walking in nature deepens them, adding depth and fodder to my daydreaming without taking away my ability to process the world. Nature gives itself to me in digestible chunks, rather than overwhelming human-created chaos, and thus allows me to sink deeply into my introvert daydream brain. In peace.
3. In nature, you can just fit in — no self-conscious feelings or judgment from anyone.
As an introvert, I usually feel like I’m too quiet, like my silence makes me stick out like a sore thumb. But in the woods, my quiet nature makes me fit right in.
What else is quiet in the woods? Trees. Plants. Chipmunks (unless they’re stuffing their adorable little cheeks with acorns). And even then, chipmunks aren’t loud in the way a stereo is loud, and they’ll never demand I drop everything and start socializing with them.
Being alone with myself in a natural environment makes me feel like I fit in. Like I fit in in a way that I just don’t in society. It’s not at all unusual for introverts to feel like outliers in our extroverted world: we tend to not enjoy parties, meetings, or loud strangers talking at us and unknowingly draining our energy as they have the time of their life.
Nature is quiet. Mountains get me. When I can immerse myself in nature through hiking — the woods, the fluidity of the foliage, the quietness radiating from the ground — that’s where I know I belong.
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4. It creates space for exercise and the mind-body connection.
Hiking gives introverts a place to do physical exercise outdoors, away from loud crowds. Being an introvert who loves movement — but gets nervous at the thought of the gym (People! Loud music! Crowded spaces!) — hiking is a great alternative. The woods allow me to give my body the exercise it needs without cramming it into a space that I find distressing.
Hiking offers introverts a place to connect to our physical bodies while also connecting to nature, and disconnecting from society. Introverts can get scared away from large group classes: Will I look strange if I go alone? Will I need to chit-chat and make small talk before or after the class? (That thought in and of itself is exhausting enough to keep me home sometimes!) Hiking, on the other hand, lets me get in exercise that strengthens my physical body while recharging me at the same time. It’s sacred alone time, helping my introverted mind and my physical body.
5. It’s a win-win solo or with a friend or two.
Sitting alone in a restaurant feels scary. Going to a party where I know only one person can be terrifying. But going on a hike by myself, or with just one (like-mindedly quiet) friend? Yes, please.
While I would love for everyone to be able to get outside and enjoy nature more, I also really relish my time spent in quiet in nature. It’s important for me to be able to breathe and just be — not to necessarily spend the whole trip having a conversation.
A small group, or better yet just one friend, means I can enjoy the hike even more, and soak up all the silence the woods have to offer. No way I’m bringing my entire office up the mountain! With a smaller group, hiking is often much more enjoyable. A smaller group can also mean more chances of seeing woodland critters, too: less chatter is less likely to scare them away.
6. Hiking lets introverts show off their adventurous side.
In her article on adventurous introverts, Suzi Schwartz writes that it’s important that introverts are “comfortable and confident in their own company.” What more could invite one to be comfortable and confident in their own company than a hike? Carefully planned solo hikes (always make sure to let someone know where you are going, and to bring plenty of water and first-aid equipment), or small-group/partner hikes, really let introverts feel comfortable in their own independence.
However, keep in mind that hiking asks a lot of the body: walking for an extended amount of time, climbing uphill, and sometimes carrying a heavy backpack full of food and water. Pay attention to your physical surroundings, make decisions about which rock to step on, and keep going even when you’re tired.
Hiking a mountain is a lot like getting to know an introvert. It’s a long journey. You might get glimpses of a view every now and then, but there’s a lot of trees on the way to the top. It requires perseverance and patience and dedication. Once you really know an introvert, and once you’re at the top of a mountain, it’s amazing. Even the journey itself can be great.