Get off your phone and…go on a hike

Welcome to the first installment in the “Get off your phone and…” series. In this collection of posts, we’ll take a look at how smartphones are impacting our life and relationships, and I’ll offer a few ideas for cool things to do instead of staring at a screen.

(Start rant)
A few months back, my mom turned to me and said, “Tell me why I need a smartphone.” My response? “You probably don’t.” What?!?!

I have a “love/want to throw out the freaking window” relationship with smartphones. They can be so useful when you need great music in the car, directions for getting to a meeting, or the ability to check personal email at lunch during a job search. I love that I can use FaceTime on my phone to video chat with my amazing niece and nephews. All wonderful, useful things that add to our life experiences.

But–hey, are you listening to me or are you checking Facebook?—smartphones have also had a negative impact on my life. Whether it be date nights interrupted by the “buzz-buzz” notification on my husband’s smartwatch or fighting my own urge to pick up my phone and mindlessly scroll through the latest news stories, there are times when I am *this* close to taking the phone and dropping it in the nearest toilet.
(End rant)

So here’s an idea for you—get off your phone and go on a hike. Leave your phone locked up in your car’s glove compartment, and experience nature with a friend or family member. What did you say? There’s nowhere to hike near you? Bull-malarkey. I live in Kansas, with a reputation as one of the most boring topographical states, and we’ve found some great hiking spots. (I get it doesn’t measure up to hiking in Colorado, but you’d be surprised at what you can find around KC.) To find some trails, check out alltrails.com or your local Parks & Rec website. Find a Meetup.com group of hikers in your area—they’ll know the top spots.

Hiking Sights.JPG

You never know what you’ll run across on a hike…

If you’re new to hiking, make sure you’re prepared by wearing comfortable shoes and proper attire, taking water, and a GPS watch or compass. If you’re taking the dog(s), carry water and waste bags for them. Plan out your hike—is this trail a 1.5 mile loop or a seven mile one-way where you’ll need to carry a backpack with additional supplies?

When you arrive, pause at the trailhead and take a deep breath. You’re about to experience some amazing benefits:
improved mood, lowered stress levels, improved creativity, a great cardio workout, and realizing that you can survive an hour without your phone. On the trail, take time to be present and enjoy the view (advice: stop when you look around so you don’t roll an ankle stepping on a tree root.) Listen to the sounds of wind through the trees, chattering squirrels, and animals walking on fallen leaves. Use the time and backdrop to deepen the relationship with your hiking companion by talking about big-picture, meaningful things. And when you’ve finished the hike, make a commitment to continue your adventure by exploring a new trail next weekend.

Also…try to wait until you get home before you post about your awesome hike on social media.

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