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Munros and mental health

Munros and mental health

Postby forkandhoofer » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:17 pm

Good evening folks.

This is my first post so please let me know if I've posted in the wrong forum!

For the last few months I've been working on an article for the Scotsman looking at Munros and the mental health benefits that Munro baggers/hikers/walkers can gain by climbing them on a regular basis. I'm looking to hear from people who have lived with a mental illness such as anxiety and depression and have used the Munros as a tool to combat whatever life throws at them.

This is a topic that is close to my heart. I've been climbing Munros for about five years and have lived with anxiety and depression for about four. The Munros have always served as an escape for me and the short-term and long-term goals they've helped me set have been hugely helpful during my battle with mental illness. For me, being in Scotland's outdoors and hiking its highest mountains has been just about the most effective form of therapy for me. No matter how dark my week has been, the prospect of a day in the mountains has always been a source of light.

If you have been through a similar experience and would be willing to talk about how the Munros have helped alleviate mental illness symptoms I would love to hear from you.

Hope you all don't mind me posting this.


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Re: Munros and mental health

Postby Sack the Juggler » Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:36 am

Hi, and welcome to the forums.

there have been discussions on this in past.


Good luck with your article, it is an important topic.
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Re: Munros and mental health

Postby forkandhoofer » Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:57 pm

Sack the Juggler wrote:Hi, and welcome to the forums.

there have been discussions on this in past.


Good luck with your article, it is an important topic.

Thanks very much Sack, some really interesting stories in that thread and nearly all of them resonated on a personal level.
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Re: Munros and mental health

Postby Jon and Jen » Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:20 pm

I'm a fairly chaotic bipolar man. My long walks are about the only time I am not up nor down and have been really beneficial to my condition. I have not been walking for a few months and have had nothing but major problems since. Looking forward to getting out again soon when my body recovers from all the restraints I've had applied over the festive period. My walking partner Jen also suffers from severe mental health problems, she also is much more stable when we are walking.

Between us in the past 3 months of not walking we have accumulated 6 suicide attempts, 5 arrests, 2 weeks in psychiatric hospital, 1 night in Perth prison, 1 relationship breakup and 15 court appearances. That's fairly normal for us when not walking. When walking we are much more stable. Investing in winter gear has been a priority for us so we can get back out. I see walking as crucial to our wellbeing. Moreso even than medication and therapy.

I'd be happy to talk to you if I can help with your article.
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Re: Munros and mental health

Postby Caberfeidh » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:26 am

Is it specifically Munros or just the hills/highlands in general? I used to have a very stressful job, working in a busy hospital unit where I was rushed off my feet twelve hours a day or night. I had to escape to the hills as often as possible to calm down and cool off. Now I have a much more relaxed job and I find that I do not have the urge to get away to the hills so much. I also notice that a lot of my friends and colleagues from hospital work have succumbed to depression and suicide over the years. I believe our minds are honed by evolution from our hunter-gatherer past to enjoy walking through hills and glens, canoeing along lochs, camping in peaceful surroundings and sitting around campfires. This stressful mad rush which life has become since the Industrial Revolution (some may say since metal working was discovered) is too much for our primordial minds and can be very unhealthy for us. A balance needs to be found between working in the modern world to enjoy the benefits of progress and relaxing in the real world of quiet hills, lochs and heather.

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Re: Munros and mental health

Postby iangpark » Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:20 pm

Not much of a Munroist, rather just a hillwalker, but my mental health has gone seriously downhill in the past few months and I am still in the process of recovering from a very serious event. I find that hillwalking less relaxes me/calms me down but instead provides a scenario in which I have no option but to focus on something else (e.g. If I don't walk this fast I'll miss the last bus back; the sun's going down etc.). I have found that after a day on the hills, as my nailbiting ceases, the appearance of my nails greatly improves and I am left with a sense of achievement for the next couple of days, normally pouring back over the report I have written and looking at photos I took.
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Re: Munros and mental health

Postby Helen Bruce » Mon Jan 21, 2019 6:33 pm

I'm lucky not to have had serious mental health problems BUT like everyone I have times when I get stressed, feel down, have to deal with bereavement, etc. Regular walking and being in nature - Munros or otherwise - is about maintaining good mental health to me, rather than helping me to cope with more severe issues.

I'm convinced that seeing big skies and fantastic views, walking through native woodlands, hearing birdsong, battling the weather, giving my body a good workout and testing my outdoor skills all build mental resilience which helps keep me more grounded and better able to cope with everything life throws at me. In fact I don't know how I'd cope without that escape valve.
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Re: Munros and mental health

Postby Sick Kid » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:16 pm

I suffered from a lengthy severe depressive episode, basically lost my 30’s and was on a concoction of meds. The meds did most of the work but definitely getting out in nature made a big difference. I went from doing long walks to hillwalking and have never looked back. I’m medication free and although I still suffer from the odd blip I’ve never felt fitter or happier.
Feel free to get in touch if you need more info :)
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