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Post Trail Blues

Everyone talks about the mental health benefits of hiking and outdoor activities and what’s not to fall in love with, it’s been proven to improve mental health and give a more positive outlook on the world.

When living in the outdoors for long periods we feel free, it’s like a nomadic calling to nature, perhaps it’s in our genes as it’s only relatively recently that we have changed our way of living and become fixed in one place inside cities and the like.

Unfortunately though there is the other side of the feeling of euphoria one experiences when out on the trail that any thru hiker and most multi-day hikers feel.

The Post Trail Blues! I’ve always found that the further from my day to day life of routine, stress and responsibility, the happier I feel but this is accompanied with a sense of impending doom that increases the closer I get to the finish line. That is to say the closer I get to having to return to all the stresses that modern day life brings. This leads to a depression in my life which sometimes lasts weeks, making me quite often anxious and feeling lost.

After speaking with many hikers over the years, I thought it might initially have been something going on with my own mental health but lots of others experience the same dread and the same anxieties of going back to our ‘normal’ lives.

I believe fundamentally that this feeling when finishing a trail and returning to ‘normality’ is because deep down we are meant to be nomadic as a species and we are meant to wander and explore our surrounding. We are adventurers at our hearts, hunters and gatherers and should be free at our very roots. Unfortunately in our lives we are most often none of these things. This leads to the depression hikers feel known as the ‘post trail blues’.

I’ve tried many ways to combat it, but found that the only real way is to slowly transition my way back into my life when I finish a trail and that involves going out after work and slaying some miles, spending much of my first week or two back at home walking, lounging in the garden or other outdoor spaces and convincing myself that it won’t be long until I’m back out. Some outdoor retail therapy helps too 😂.

I hope you enjoyed this short read and if you suffer from the post trail blues, don’t worry you are definitely not alone and it will pass within a short period of time and you’ll be back to feeling amazing.

If you do however suffer with depression, anxieties and other mental health conditions in normal day to day living. It may be worth consulting a professional to investigate the route cause of the problems.

peace Out.

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  1. So, it is actually a ‘thing’ – post trail blues. Well…
    Glad to know it’s normal. I very definitely have that issue, particularly after my 2 last walks…21 days of walking and back to reality.
    As a panacea, I pushed my target for 2021 to 2,000 boots on miles 🤪🤪 Needed an incentive to not bury myself at home and sulk because I wasn’t on a long-distance trail 🙃
    But yes, weirdly this time has been the worst. After previous trails, like the Camino and Pilgrim’s Way, I felt sad it was done, but got on with it….but this time, I’m feeling really glum.
    So besides the extra mileage, I’ve started working on my next big walk …South Downs Way in April 2022.
    Good to know that post-trail blues is a real thing…

    • I was following your journey on the UK long distance hiking page. It looked amazing and you smashed it.

      Planning the next hike definitely helps with readjusting to being back home. I think it tricks your brain into thinking you’ll soon be back out 🤣.

  2. Until a few weeks ago, I really had no idea this was a thing either. Most articles address it from a thru-hiker’s perspective, but just spending 2 weeks have adventures in Maine, summiting Katahdin and trekking the 100 Mile Wilderness, I came back feeling lost when I returned to “the real world.” On the positive, it was a wonderful, life-changing adventure; on the downside, it magnified the existing discontent with my job in the corporate world, and my frustration with obstacles standing in my way to semi-retirement and a more fulfilling, less stressful job somewhere else.

    I feel like I need 3-6 months off just to reset.

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