Exploring the Power of Nature with Deborah Padilla

Have you ever considered the mental health benefits of hiking? Whether going on a lengthy hiking adventure or just a short hike through one of your favourite trails, hiking brings many positive benefits you need to be aware of! This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Deborah Padilla, a therapist, author, and host of the podcast Hiking Is My Therapy. As a long-time Avenza Maps user, Deborah shares how the app has helped her in her everyday life and how she came to know Avenza Maps.

Get ready to be inspired and informed as we dive deep into Deborah's fascinating story, where she opens up candidly about her journey with the Avenza Maps app.

Introduce Yourself! Give us a brief introduction of who you are and what you do.

“I am a therapist, author, podcast host of HIKING IS MY THERAPY, and founder of the nonprofit PATHS WITH HEALING, Inc. I also volunteer with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and am a Board of Directors member for the American Hiking Guides Association.

I have always enjoyed hiking, but the pandemic pushed me to do it more often. Once I started constantly hiking, I experienced firsthand the benefits it brought to my mental health.”

Through this interview, we hope to inspire, educate, and provoke thoughts, creating a platform that nurtures personal growth to help our users enjoy the great outdoors more and more!

Tell us the story behind your discovery of Avenza Maps?

“I discovered the Avenza Maps app by word of mouth.

I was looking for an alternative since other apps I used previously had challenges providing accurate navigation. Countless times I would end up off trail because navigation wasn't reliable on the other apps. After downloading Avenza Maps, I realized I could download the official trail maps, which drew me in even more since I was already redlining different parks. I liked that I could see my progress, which motivated me to complete my redlining challenges. To this day, I have redlined nine various parks using the Avenza Maps app. I have never had an issue with navigation ever again, either.”

What specific features of the app do you find most appealing, and in what ways does it contribute to your mental well-being?

“I have two favourite features of the app. The first feature is the tracking feature. I am a visual learner, so I want to see my progress directly and upfront. However, tracking can also relate to mental health. In Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, there is a technique called thought records. It allows us to track our feelings and thoughts about a situation and use evidence against them to promote positive ones. For example, sometimes, we take a wrong turn on the trail and need to use logic to get back on that right path. Looking at the map helps us understand where we went wrong and how to move forward. The same concept applies to mental health challenges; keeping track of our thoughts and understanding how to reframe them for the better.

The second is the placemark feature. I enjoy this feature because you can capture a particular moment of your hike, add a description, or photo, see your location, etc., and reference it later to ensure I can make the best of my current and future hike. Sometimes we take different routes, sometimes, we go a bit slower, or we may climb over that blowdown to push forward. Essentially, it's a memory, good, bad, or indifferent. Like trauma, we store memories inside of us and must figure out how to face them, even if we go a bit slower, take a different route, or just climb over it and continue moving forward. An idea for those out on the trail, drop a placemark whenever a bad memory appears and think about how you might successfully work your way through it-- whether with logic, positive reinforcement, or reframing thoughts-- just like you would with a blowdown, seeing wildlife, or a rerouting of a trail.”

What is your approach to utilizing Avenza Maps in your day-to-day activities?

“I use the app in my day-to-day by creating hikes. I have complete autonomy with the app to plan my routes. Whether on or off the trail, I can look at Avenza Maps to understand what path I want to take next, how long, how short, the elevation, etc. I know what I'm getting myself into. Like mental health, we can take control by choosing which paths to take to move forward.”

About the podcast

Deborah has recently launched the podcast "Hiking Is My Therapy" with a focus on shedding light on the impact of mental health in our daily lives. She personally experienced the relief that hiking and spending time outdoors brought her and strongly believes that this aspect deserves more attention and discussion. Her main goal is to create a safe and open space through conversations with various guests, where people can explore the transformative effects of trekking in nature on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. In a recent episode, Avenza Maps had the opportunity to be featured on the podcast. Chelsey Harasym, the Marketing Manager at Avenza Systems, shared on the podcast valuable insights about how the app's unique features can be beneficial in handling stressors on the trail and positively influencing mental health.

 Listen to the full podcast episode: You’ve Never Mapped It So Good!


Is Hiking Your Therapy?

Through our enlightening conversation with Deborah, we have come to a profound realization of the positive effects of hiking. It has become evident that hiking transcends being a mere physical activity; instead, it serves as a transformative pathway toward self-discovery, resilience, and inner peace. By immersing ourselves in the beauty of the natural world, we open ourselves up to an abundant source of inspiration and mental clarity. We hope this blog can continue to inspire you to embrace the healing power of hiking, to seek solace in nature's embrace, and to embark on your soul-nourishing journeys. We wish you endless adventures and soul-nourishing journeys!

Don’t forget to tag us on social media during your next outdoor experience trekking through the woods!