Stephanie is a member of the Young People's Sport Panel. Having struggled with depression and anxiety for many years, Stephanie shares her personal experience of the benefits of physical activity, and her passion for hillwalking and Munro bagging.
"I have struggled with depression and anxiety for many years now and when I was first diagnosed, I struggled to find ways in which to cope with it. I then found Munro climbing and hill walking six years ago. Pre-lockdown, I was climbing at least two Munros per week and my goal is to complete all 282 Munros.
"When I go hill walking, I mostly hike solo. Munro climbing has taught me to enjoy my own company and develop resilience and independence.
"I feel we are so blessed to live in such a beautiful country. I feel at peace when I am on the summit of a mountain, it really puts things into perspective. I have always loved a challenge and thrived when pushing myself to my physical limits. However, when I first took up hillwalking, I realised that this also had a positive effect on my mental wellbeing.
"I was learning to develop a strong mindset, improve my mental toughness and fight those voices in my head which told me to stop.
"When I know I am planning on climbing a Munro, I find that the days leading up to it I am excited and motivated – because even the thought of it brings me so much happiness. During the climb I feel like I am where I am supposed to be – maybe I was a mountain goat in a past life?
"Standing on top of the summit, I am calm yet invigorated. I often will do a 10-minute meditation routine on the summit to reflect on the climb and appreciate the moment.
"One quote that I love is ‘The best view comes after the hardest climb’. I feel that this not only applies to Munro climbing but life in general. When you are dealing with the obstacles and challenges life throws at you and you somehow come out of it on top and stronger than you were, you feel like you are on top of the world.
"After my climb, I drive home listening to my music and just thinking about how good I feel. I look forward to getting home and watching my footage on my GoPro and creating a new video for my YouTube channel which mirrors the amazing day that I had."
What's your advice for anyone looking to try Munro climbing?
My advice for those who would like to start Munro climbing would be:
- Build up your fitness by climbing some smaller hills – Conic Hill, Ben A’an, etc.
- Book yourself onto a navigation course – having the ability to confidently use a map and compass is a vital skill when Munro climbing.
- Tag along with someone who has experience Munro climbing – learning from others is always helpful.
- Plan ahead! Check the weather, specifically wind and mist forecast.
- Ensure you have the appropriate clothing (walking boots, waterproof/windproof jacket, walking trousers, walking socks).
- Ensure you have enough food and water for your climb.
- Start with the ‘easier’ Munros – Ben Lomond, Ben Chonzie, Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn).
What's your advice to anyone trying to increase their physical activity?
Get outdoors! The outdoors provides us with a whole new world to explore. Whether it be going for a walk in a local park/hill or going for a run. There is so much room for various activities to keep us active.
One method I use on my daily walk is utilising all my senses to create a more vivid experience and become more aware of my surroundings.
For example, using my ears to listen to the sound of the birds and crunching of the leaves. Using my nose to smell the freshly cut grass. Using my hands to feel the leaves and flowers and using my eyes to see the dogs playing in the park.
By doing this I feel a grounded and at peace. This is a great time for reflection and setting goals. Lockdown is not going to last forever, so use this time to plan for future adventures and look forward to what has to come.
‘Life is a climb, but the view is great.’
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SAMH and sportscotland have launched a campaign, to share the benefits of physical activity and help you to Feel Your Personal Best.