Sophie Radcliffe, 33

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“My first time on a mountain was a light-bulb moment”

Mountains for the Mind supporter, Berghaus, has teamed up with adventure athlete Sophie Radcliffe who discovered an inner strength through time spent in the mountains.

If there is one feeling I wish I could package up and share with the world, it would be the way nature makes me feel. I have never felt more alive, free and strong in myself than when standing on top of a mountain. The wind blowing around me, clouds shifting to give way to a beautiful sunset, my heart beating. I literally feel on top of the world. There’s something about the wind, the flow of water from rivers and the vast expanse of the wilderness that makes me feel afraid and protected, vulnerable and confident at the same time. It’s almost as though I know everything is exactly how it should be and I don’t need to worry about a thing.

The best medicine for my own mental health is this feeling. For me, it has become a natural remedy. I can’t imagine living without the way nature makes me feel. I’m an adventure athlete living in London, but a few years ago my life looked very different to how it is now. I was stuck in an unfulfilling 9-5 sales job dreaming of a life of adventure, but not knowing how to make it happen. I fell in love with the outdoors and specifically the UK’s incredible mountains in Scotland, Snowdonia and the Lake District.

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In my early twenties, I remember feeling very limited by the world and its plan for me. All I saw were boxes that I had to fit into, and other people trying to define who I was and what I was capable of achieving.

That didn’t seem right to me, so I decided to take my life into my own hands and discovered a passion for the outdoors and challenging myself. Being outside is a powerful natural antidote to the stress of modern culture and the lack of engagement and fulfilment many of us feel in our daily lives.

Our society, and especially social media, feeds into our insecurities of feeling like we are not enough: not good enough, not achieving enough, not doing enough. When I come home from a weekend in the hills, I feel like I am enough. I feel refreshed, calm and beaming from the experience. These are smiles that money can’t buy.

Nature gives me an opportunity to press pause on everything else and focus on enjoying the moments as they unfold. Pressing pause and learning to be present leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to take on life again.

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One of the biggest transformations I’ve experienced through the outdoors is with my confidence. Growing up I always struggled with figuring out how to be true to myself and also be accepted by my peers. The first time I climbed a mountain, it was a light-bulb moment! I remember thinking that this was the most amazing thing I’ve done with my life and I felt something change. Courage. For me, courage, confidence and resilience underpin every single thing we do or say in our lives. They determine how we respond when things go wrong, the way we view ourselves, the relationships we build and how far we can go in our mission for personal growth and creating a life we love. One of my favourite quotes is ‘Confidence is like a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger it gets.’ The outdoors enables us to practise dealing with adversity, and this builds confidence and courage.

Being outside is a huge part of my mental health management strategy because it’s the place I feel most alive. I love doing something positive for myself, in the environment that makes me come alive, with my friends and family, or on my own. I love being wrapped in silence far away from our busy world. And in our demanding, non-stop lives, silence is hard to come by, but so needed.

Nature teaches me that the simplest things can be incredibly powerful, and above all I cannot get over the fact that we can access all of this for free.

Follow Sophie’s blog and Instagram


WIN!

Berghaus is giving away the Berghaus Changtse waterproof jacket (as worn by Sophie here) to one lucky winner. The Changtse is the ultimate in wet weather protection. With endurance and durability at its core, this Gore-Tex jacket is a next-generation waterproof, delivering outstanding protection and breathability for all-season mountaineering and strenuous mountain walks.


Katie Kerry