Stuck at home? Follow These 10 Tips to Avoid Thru-Hiking FOMO – The Trek | Gmx Pharm

BBefore I sat down to write this article, I was scrolling social media and falling into one of my dangerous wanderlust moods. That mostly happens when I start my day by watching everyday hikers waking up in the dirt, envying friends who moved to Europe after college, or seeing influencers magically frolicking in the woods and getting paid to do so will. Although I logically know that none of this is as good as it appears on social media – it’s almost impossible to start my busy day at home feeling happy and motivated.

FOMO or “Fear of Missing Out” is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. I have a hard time distinguishing between something I really want to do and something I want to do think I should do it because my friends or community seem like they’re having a great time.

Have you ever scrolled through your own social media page and felt a disconnect from your actual reality? Sometimes I look at my own pictures on Instagram and “want my life”. This concept is so crazy – and it sheds a pretty dramatic light on the difference between what we share online and our everyday reality. Whenever I fall down the existential rabbit hole of wanting to be where someone else is, I find a way to re-ground myself. These tips are all practices I personally use to combat the raging FOMO bred by walker trash on social media.

The Uinta Highline Trail was my only backpacking trip longer than three days in over two years. It can be really hard to stay present in my life when I’d rather be basking in the dirt

1. Diversify and clean up your social media feed

Take stock of the content you consume. There are so many creators out there, but it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into a small niche. If the algorithm only ranks you in thru-hiking content, you might not see the thousands of creators who also work 9-5s or have family commitments.

Also, I find it incredibly refreshing to follow hiking and backpacking content that I consider honest. It’s rarely glamorous. Filters do a great job of hiding chapped lips, chafed thighs, sunburned shoulders and sheer exhaustion. Following creators who are honest about their ups and downs has actually helped me realize that I really have to be willing to embark on something of a walkthrough. It’s not as easy as quitting your job and posting pictures of yourself sleeping in the dirt and romping down the path.

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2. Take a break from social media altogether

If you step away from Instagram for a week, I guarantee it will still be the same when you come back. I recommend this if you are really struggling and having a hard time getting excited about anything in your daily or weekly routine.

We strongly recommend keeping a journal of the experience. Here are some questions to consider:

  • When do you use social media?
  • Do you use it for relaxation (during a break from work) or for distraction?
  • Do you find it difficult to set time limits on certain apps?
  • Do you feel refreshed or distant after a scrolling break?
  • What content do you share about yourself and why?

Write down how you felt before and after your break. Once you’ve learned something, put certain rules into practice for yourself when it comes to social media. Examples of this can be “no Instagram or Tik Tok between hours empty and empty” or “no phones in bed”. Also take advantage of the time limit features for certain apps that most smartphones have.

CONTINUE READING – Pictures or It Didn’t Happen: Is Social Media Ruining Thru-Hiking?

3. Create an outdoor exercise routine

My weekly trail runs keep me grounded and show me how many trails there are in my area that I have yet to explore.

Sure, you might not be able to hike high alpine wilderness or traverse river crossings on your doorstep. However, making a commitment to exploring your regional parks and trails is a phenomenal way to develop a greater appreciation for where you are. Exercising outdoors is a key part of my mental health during long stretches at home with no trips out. Establishing and maintaining a routine that excites you can free you from the “why can’t I be there instead” trap.

4. Plan micro-adventures or local backpacking trips

When I was living in San Diego and had to flee, I drove an hour to Mt. Laguna for an easy overnight stay or a long trail run. While it’s not the most breathtaking wilderness area there is, simply hopping onto a trail helped ease the trepidation.

Mark a weekend (or two!) on your calendar for adventure. If you can take three days off, make time to plan something special. Although two or three days might seem like nothing compared to a thoroughfare, some pretty epic adventures are possible with meticulous planning. When I’m in a phase where I’m working hard five days a week, my two days off can fly by like a second. However, when I take the time to plan an overnight backpacking trip, a long trail run, or a road trip to a place I haven’t been before, the time seems to stretch. Let yourself be inspired by the smallest excursions – many people do not even make it out of their city on days off.

5. If thru-hiking is a dream… Start planning

It’s never too early to start thinking about your thru-hike in a productive way. Instead of consuming media and just waiting and waiting your turn, start acting. Steps you can take today begin with budgeting, making an equipment list, and exercising. When you focus on your adventure (however far away it may be), you take the FOMO-inducing power away from the adventures of others. Plus, when you have a goal as bold as a walk-through, it makes the choice more logical. It’s a lot easier to say no to a beer or meal when you know the money saved goes straight into your trail budget.

Personally, I don’t have any through hikes on my calendar at the moment. However, I am training for some ambitious ultra running races. Although I hate having to explain myself to my friends, when I explain that I’m training for a long race, nobody pressures me to go out. If your friends don’t respect your boundaries around your long-term goals, consider the quality of those friendships as well. 🙂

6. Find a creative way to document past adventures

During the COVID lockdown in March 2020 I created Instagram story highlights for national parks I visited. It was a really fun and engaging way to create visual scrapbooks of outdoor memories

I’m not a particularly smart person, so immersing myself in a small art project requires all my concentration. Whether you prefer visual or social media, physical scrapbooks or maps, documenting past trips is a really fun way to keep your mind from wandering on “when is the next trip”. It can be super easy – personally it took me all afternoon to hang a map of the Wasatch Mountains behind my bed so I could start putting pins in all the local peaks I marked. Instagram reels, short videos, cards, scrapbooks, or collages are all ways you can remember and honor your past adventures.

7. Make trail magic

If you live within driving distance of a scenic national trail, spend a day or weekend experiencing trail magic. This is an amazing way to see ACTUAL hikers, and not just through the lens of what they post on social media. Chances are you’ll see gnarly blisters and/or sunburns and hear some brutal stories too. All of this is very helpful when considering the realities of a thru hike and preparing to plan your own hike.

8. Volunteer for a local trail organization

Especially if your goal is to hike one day, volunteering for this trail is a very powerful way to stay connected with the community. Even if you don’t live within driving distance of any of the national scenic trails, there are many local area outdoor organizations that you could volunteer with. Building and maintaining trails is strenuous but worthwhile work. Additionally, the people you will be working with are likely to be of the same mold as you. This is a great way to meet other hikers and outdoor advocates in your community while you spend your day doing impact work for your backyard trails.

9. Find a local hiking group

I’m part of a women’s trail running group in Salt Lake City. I’ve met so many amazing people, including former thru hikers, that fuel my desire to plan a long hike one day.

Social media is a great place to look for groups in your area. Through Facebook and Instagram, I’ve found all sorts of sites for hiking, rock climbing, trail running, and even backcountry skiing. If you type “your area + hiking” (or whatever hobby you enjoy) into the Facebook group search, all local results will be populated. This is an amazing way to meet people, find new paths, and root yourself in your own community. Finding a group like this can be life-saving, especially if you are new to an area or have recently made a change in your life.

10. Ask for help when you need it

There is a distinct difference between easy FOMO/dreaming about your next adventure and not wanting to live your own life. If you’re not finding joy in any part of your routine, it may be a good idea to speak to a professional.

CONTINUE READING – Post-Trail Depression: It’s Not What You Think

Finding routine, community and peace at home is essential between adventures. As a former or hopeful future thru-hiker, spending hours a day devouring the adventures of others via social media can reach an unhealthy point. Whenever I’m unable to stop scrolling or inexplicably feeling down after unsubscribing from Instagram, I know it’s time to reapply some of these tips.

Featured image: Graphic design by Jillian Verner (@yourstrulyjillian).

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