13 Reasons Why Hiking The Swiss Alps SRSLY Chilled Out My Anxiety
City living stressing you out? Go climb a mountain (or three...)
Meetings, phone calls, emails. Have to pay rent, have no money, stuck in a WhatsApp group chat that never ends...
Modern life is a struggle for both you and your mental health.
Sunday night fear gives me the shakes and I get attacked by anxiety all the time. So in a bid to get some perspective (literally, in the case of the altitude) on my exhausting existence, I marched up some mountains for a dose of peace and quiet. It was the retreat to nature my brain desperately needed. My poor feet, on the other hand, will never forgive me.
I swapped London for the Swiss Alps and hiked my way along the Via Alpina (a vast network of walking routes that wind past Switzerland’s three legendary mountains: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau).
I didn’t walk the entire length of the Via Alpina mainly because the epic route perambulates eight countries, has 342 stages and spans 5000 kilometres. A slightly ambitious undertaking to squeeze into a long weekend.
Instead, I hoofed it along three stunning stages; incorporating valleys, glaciers and lush alpine meadows. For the first time in years, my fears and worries were giving my brain a break.
Here's 17 reasons how hiking the Alps totally chilled my anxiety levels
Hobbling along the Via Alpina in an old pair of agonising Dr. Martens, the mighty Mönch, Eiger and Jungfrau (a mere 4,158m tall) boss the horizon. Their colossal white-capped peaks tower above you (whilst quietly judging your inappropriate footwear choices), and their strong resilience defo gives off empowering vibes.
Breathing Clean Air
The Swiss Alps took my breath away, literally. I inhaled so much insanely clean and fresh air that I could feel my shoulders destress in a heartbeat. So next time life gets a bit much, just remember to breathe.
At 8,570ft, the Sefinenfurgge pass deafens you with its ear-splitting silence. The only noise breaking the quietness is boot on rock as you crunch-crunch your way along the steep alpine trail from the pretty village of Mürren.
Those negative inner thoughts get drowned out when the silence is turned up to eleven. I stood and simply listened to nothing. Bliss! I had heard that peace and quiet was good for you; now I know.
Walking through the cool pine forests of Rosenlaui and the alpine meadows of Sefinental, to-do lists and emails you haven't replied to are quickly forgotten. Worries melt away like the dripping Jungfrau glacier when you're surrounded by such spectacular landscapes.
It’s great for the glutes too! You rack up some serious mileage as you shuffle along some seriously steep terrain. Thankfully the Via Alpina is clearly signposted; making navigation of the wilderness easy and helped ease my fears of getting lost.
A Good Night's Sleep
It has been scientifically proven that a decent night's sleep helps reduce depression, increases creativity and may let you live longer. Reasons why lying awake at 3am gives me severe stress sweats.
Hiking is an exhausting endeavour. But after a Swiss beer (or three) and a scalding hot shower, falling into a deep healthy sleep won’t be a problem. Waking up you feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to smash those mountains (even if every muscle and tendon inside you aches).
A sunny day makes life better and a good blast of vitamin-D helps maintain a healthy, functioning body. Stood atop a Swiss mountain bathed in bright September sun you've never felt so healthy and happy. The vistas across the Jungfrau valley when the sun is high in the blue alpine sky are unreal. Mountain ridges and pristine pastures roll out for mile after mile.
Don’t forget to apply a lot of sun cream.
The largest glacier in Europe, the Aletsch cuts through the Jungfrau region, and as the ice melts, spectacular waterfalls are formed. The towering Reichenbachfälle waterfall (famous for being the location where Sherlock Holmes plunged to his death) is located just outside Meiringen.
Visiting the UNESCO listed Rosenlaui Glacier Gorge is a revitalising experience as torrents of icy water thunder down all around you. For thousands of years this powerful waterwall has pounded the surrounding rock and forged a series of surreal granite formations.
Witnessing the raw power of water cleanses your head of any impurities.
So Much Green
Looking out across an endless patchwork of alpine pastures and rolling meadows, a sense of relaxation restores your mind to a healthy state of calm. Memories of grey concrete tower blocks quickly disappear.
Psychologists have proven through studies that the colour green can evoke emotions of peace. They are correct!
Chilled Out Cows
Swiss cows are living their best lives up the Alps. Their days are spent chilling and chewing fresh alpine grass without a care in the world. Us uptight humans can learn a lot from these bovine Buddhas.
At One With Nature
Normally the only nature I come across during my daily grind is a scabby urban fox or half eaten chicken wings discarded on a city pavement.
Taking a mindful moment to chew on a cheese sandwich whilst sitting in a warm meadow along the Lauberhorn Trail, I felt eyes on me. Slowly, I turned and caught the gaze of a curious deer. Above me black crows squawked their way across the clear blue skies. It was humbling being outdoors with these carefree creatures.
Very Friendly People
Guten tag! Salut! People who enjoy spending their time roaming the great outdoors are a happy bunch. Every German, Swiss and French hiker waved hello to me as we shuffled along mountain passes. At first I found such friendliness jarring. Maybe living for so long in a busy city has made me cynical; I'm used to being grunted at or simply ignored. These affable ramblers restored my faith in humanity and I waved back with actual sincerity.
Cute little villages
Ambling through the assorted alpine villages that punctuate the Via Alpina helped me forget the sprawl of my city livin' - the postcard-perfect wooden cabins with their window boxes ablaze with bright red flowers were major property porn.
These tranquil little towns felt like they were built especially for people who want an easy existence. Grindelwald and car-free Wengen right at the foot of Jungfrau were particularly splendid. Don’t rush through these villages. Take some time to hang out and enjoy the vibes.
Swiss chocolate has a reputation for being the best chocolate in the world because, well; it is! Beautiful, satin-smooth milk chocolate may not be great for the waistband, but who cares. Chocolate this good literally tastes of happiness. Chewing it was difficult because I was smiling so hard.
MTV Travelled With... Switzerland Tourism, Swiss Travel System, and Swiss International Air Lines, who operate up to 180 weekly flights fto Switzerland from London Heathrow, London City, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh (seasonal during summer) and Dublin from £55 one way MTV Trekked Along...Via Alpina C9 - Meiringen » Grindelwald (Length = 23km, Hiking time = 7h 50 min, Difficulty: Tough), Via Alpina C10 - Grindelwald >> Wengen (Length = 19km, Hiking time = 6h 35 min, Difficulty: Easy to Tough), Via Alpina C11 - Wengen >> Grieslep (Length = 22km, Hiking time = 9h, Difficulty: Medium to Very Tough). MTV Hiked With.... Eurotrek. MTV Stayed At... Alpin Sherpa Hotel, Hotel Krichbuhl, Hotel Belvedere, Hotel Waldrand-Pochtenalp.