Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Staying Indoors, Coping With Anxiety & Depression

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So how do you all feel, around nine-ish weeks into the Lockdown (at least in Finland)?

Wooden Boards

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I started to get the first signs of depression last week, I have to admit. I especially feel bad because I lost around 90% of my income, I had to postpone the European Trail Days Festival and many work trips, with other cooperations also falling through. I am not one to normally write and share such personal things, but I want to show you that while things are OK here (we can pay the bills and have food on the table each day) AND Social Media posts look like Life is A-OK, I still feel the negative consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and hence I decided to break with my normal approach and share these thoughts with you.

The first “hint of a depression” is giving me the feeling that I wanna fix it by buying stuff, to get a quick dopamine hit of knowing of getting something new and shiny. However, I also know this does not work for me. If at all, it is a very brief dopamine hit, then I start to check tracking updates a couple of times each day (which makes me more anxious), and when it then arrives I unpack it, smile, and am unhappy again. Shopping is not a sustainable fix for me, and I happy am pretty well able to refrain from shopping, also under normal circumstances.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2

With going outdoors also being more difficult right now - both kids are at home, my wife is working from home and as I’m basically unemployed (I am finishing up a lot of projects, though) - it is also not easy for me to go backpacking, which usually is my medicine to these situations. I can’t go out to shoot videos or go hiking, as I have to take care of the kids. At 4 and 8 they are well able to take mostly care of themselves and they play nicely together, but every 15 to 45 minutes there is a “Dad” call which needs attention. And with me being the one who has little paying work, I take care of them.

Now as you might know, I got back into painting miniatures and playing tabletop and boardgames several years ago, and this is actually something which helps me to cope. In the evenings (and sometimes also during the day) I go to my hobby room, where I have a nice painting corner set up, and then I delve into painting terrain or miniatures. I can get lost in the little details, forget about the bad things, and have fun and relaxation while painting. I also got a 3D Printer which is a nice new toy, but also a lot of work. This hobby does give me happiness and keeps me busy, which is positive.

Hobbying away.

Another thing which usually helps me is to do sports, like trailrunning. Sadly I have had very little motivation to put my running clothes and shoes on and go for a 5 or 10 km run in the nearby forest. After a long day taking care of the kids and doing some work, there’s just little power left to motivate myself to go outside. Which is a shame, because I know it would make me feel much better, if I did so.

So, I really miss being outdoors. Under normal circumstances I am skiing, backpacking or bikepacking & packrafting once a month for a week, but right now we do not have normal circumstances. By the way, I fully support Lockdown measures and social distancing, I think the Finnish government is doing a tremendous job of keeping the population safe and healthy. But yeah, I miss not being able to go hiking with my best friend - we planned to go hiking in Luxembourg or Belgium right about now - or that my ski seasons was cut so short.


On the positive side of this Pandemic, it’s really great to sleep till 8:00 in the morning - usually we have to get up earlier to bring kids to school and kindergarden, and being able to sleep “long” and have a relaxed breakfast and a slow start into the day is positive. But that’s really about the positive things I can think of. Well, there’s less pollution from air traffic, but that’s about it.

So, all this is more of a way to say: While Social Media might give the impression that everything is great with me (I try not to give that impression, but pretty photos might give it nevertheless), the truth is that I also feel the consequences of this situation mentally, but that thanks to my family and my indoors hobbies I am coping alright. I miss going on backpacking trips and travelling, but I do think it is necessary to protect the people who are at risk. I hope that it will be soon possible to go outdoors sort-of-normally, at the latest this summer, and that I will have a great autumn backpacking trip with my best friend - and I hope that for all people who love & need the outdoors for their mental wellbeing like me.

If you also “feel blue” or anxious, feel free to reach out to me (DMs or Personal Messages on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook work fine). We’re in this together =)

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Ivalojoen Kultaja