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  • Deborah E. Padilla

Nature Therapy: Stop! In the Name of Anxiety


nature therapy for anxiety and trauma

Meet the man behind HIKING WHILE BLACK. Tyrone ("Tye"), vlogs about his hikes throughout the Hudson Valley and beyond when he's not busy working at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Tye grew up in Bohlmann Towers, a public housing unit in Peekskill, NY, where he witnessed constant drug activity and community violence. His mother worked three jobs and did her best for him and his sisters, but survival was always a struggle. Even though he has worked through some of these challenges, past traumas have been hard to conceptualize, and anxieties have surfaced. As a man, it has been challenging for him to express how he feels and embrace his sensitive side due to the stigma that our society has put on him. 

These experiences have left Tye unsure of how to manage his feelings because he was forced not to express himself growing up. It was difficult for him, and he had to be strong during the worst times. His mother constantly had to prove to be strong during stressful times, which mirrored how he handled conflict. One of his most extensive traumatic experiences was his father getting stabbed in the eye in his apartment building. It was hard for him to express his feelings over this traumatic experience, but he did what he was taught: compartmentalize. This is not a healthy defense mechanism, but it allowed him to survive. He trained his mind that things were just the way they were, and there was not much of a way out of it. It became a bad habit to the point where he did not know how to manage his feelings anymore, but he has improved as an adult. 

Tyrone's first hike was Anthony's Nose in Hudson Highlands State Park, NY. It is located just past the Bear Mountain bridge. This is a steep hike for someone hiking for the first time! Another trauma he had as a child was when he fell off the roof of a four-story building, and it developed into a fear of heights. Anthony's Nose has a beautiful view that overlooks the Hudson River higher up in elevation. He instilled the concept of in vivo exposure therapy by facing his fears that developed from the traumatic experience and climbing to the top.

Additionally, hiking has allowed him to decompress when it comes to anxiety. I asked him about cognitive reconstructing and how he could break negative thought patterns when facing his fears and anxieties. He told me that he utilizes positive affirmations and thoughts before hiking to help him challenge those negative thoughts. He also takes deep breaths and pays attention to his surroundings to help ground himself. It has taught him resilience and allowed him to self-reflect when expressing his feelings. Mindfulness techniques have proven to be helpful when he is being triggered on the trail.

Another hike that influenced his trauma and anxiety was hiking the Popolopen Torne trail. Tyrone attempted to hike it twice, but he turned around when he saw the rope on the trail. The third time, he did it and felt accomplished, so he wanted to do it again! Experiencing that resilience, he suggests that everybody try to hike the Breakneck Trail in the Hudson Valley. He stresses that he had a similar experience hiking that trail. The moral of the story is that if you can overcome difficult trials that relate to your mental health challenges, just like he did with his trauma and anxiety, you can overcome anything. Tye reconditions his symptoms on the trail related to trauma and anxiety using nature therapy techniques, and so can you!


HIKING IS MY THERAPY IG: @hikingismytherapyofficial

HIKING IS MY THERAPY FB: /hikingismytherapy

HIKING IS MY THERAPY Website: www.hikingismytherapy.com

HIKING IS MY THERAPY Email: hikingismytherapy.info@gmail.com


Tyrone's IG: @hikingwhileblackny

Tyrone's FB: /hikingwhileblackny

Tyrone's Website: www.hikingwhileblackny.com


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