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How Hiking Can Teach Us Antifragility

On a recent trip, we found ourselves at the airport bookstore, as we tend to gravitate. We often buy a number of books that we both will read, one of these was IKIGAI – The Japanese secret to a long and happy life. The past few weeks I have soaked up all the wisdom on the pages, immersed in each chapter nodding my head in agreement with the impermanence of nature, the importance of movement, eating well, and resilience.

Resilience as we know is the ability to keep going despite hardships, face difficult moments and ride the waves of life’s ups and downs. Resilience isn’t just the ability to persevere but can be considered an outlook we can cultivate within to focus on the important things in life, rather than we swept away in the most urgent or negative emotions.

Brigitte of Coreworx Collective & her team of gym goers hit the trails for some nature time. Cape Schanck

We all face difficult moments in our lives and the way in which we can navigate these make a significant difference to the quality of our lives and our relationships. What if we could go beyond being resilient and cultivate ‘antifragility’?

Fragile is a word to describe things that are weakened by harm or force.

So, to be antifragile, a thing or a person would gain strength, and become better due to a hardship or struggle.

Hikers survey the track ahead that climbs up to the Telegraph saddle

It’s where I had my uh-huh moment. I knew this was my experience, just never had a word for it. Throughout my life, I have faced many hardships and in retrospect, I can clearly see that it is because of these events, these circumstances that I am stronger, wiser, and more knowledgeable. I never appreciated at the time, through all the tears, heartache, and fear that it was in fact making me grow as a person. It wasn’t an option for the most part of it, it was a survival instinct. I learned to trust my intuition, wake up and step into a better, stronger version of myself. A lot of which has been processed whilst hiking.

Being antifragile doesn’t mean that you’re immune to hurt, or to the depths of feelings from the human experience but rather you take those experiences and grow from them. It's an outlook, an approach to cultivating a more positive experience or outcome from a perceived negative one.

A private tour to the Wilsons Prom lighthouse. A hiker takes a rest in this incredible view before the last push to the end

How do you cultivate Antifragility?

Put yourself in challenging, uncomfortable situations

I love hiking for this reason. It’s not that I don’t find it challenging or comfortable, I do at times. Knowing that it will make me develop my resilience into antifragility. I become stronger of body and mind each time I put myself in a challenging situation.

A pack hike for example is the ultimate in self-sufficiency which also builds confidence. There are moments to build antifragility on a hike; the incline on the hills, the sandy beach walks, sleeping in a tent. All whilst immersed in the most beautiful of landscapes.

Not a bad lesson, if you were to take one.

Understand that everything is impermanent

Nature has a fantastic way of reminding us of impermanence. Leaves fall from a tree with strong wind, clouds form and dissipate into the air before our eyes, and waves wash ashore and instantly withdraw into the sea.

Buddhists and Stoics remind us that the present is all that exists. We are not in the past nor are we in the future, we are in the now. If we can appreciate the transience in nature and of things, we can move towards being more antifragile when things cease, when seasons change, and become stronger in the fact that nothing stays the same.

Reflect & practice gratitude

These seem to go hand in hand, like salt and pepper. Each brings out the other's full flavour.

Reflecting can be conversations with a trusted loved one, journalling, or deep uninterrupted contemplation. This allows us to focus on the important things and being thankful for circumstances, however difficult, gives way to new ideas, and allows you to develop a better understanding of how things affect you.

How empowering!

Find an outlet for your stress

Nothing grows in a toxic environment. To ensure that we have the ability to become antifragile, we want to ensure that we have healthy ways to handle our stress and anxiety. It is a given that exercise be part of this package but what else can you do to release the pressure cooker?

Get creative. Take a bath. Take a hike.

Hiking gets us outdoors in nature. It’s the perfect platform (in my opinion) to cultivate the virtues of antifragility.

  • Provides a challenge to move from your comfort zone and empowers you with experience.

  • Plants you in nature and front row to the impermanence lesson.

  • Hiking activates both hemispheres of your brain and the trail time allows for reflection and gratitude.

Keen to learn more about how to embody antifragility? Check out the upcoming hikes and ill coach you over 3 days!


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