Tips & Advice

Get Tips and Advice from the guides at Mountain Trek. Nutrition, Hiking, Sleep, Detox and Fitness are just some of the topics we cover.

The Cause of your low energy and how to fix it

Feeling tired and low on energy has a dramatic effect on your life. Being low on energy reduces productivity, happiness, longevity, and your overall health. Understanding what causes a lack of energy and how to fix it is critical, and what we aim to share with you in this article.

What Causes Low Energy

Essentially all life in the universe is composed of energy. And, energy (which is never created or destroyed) is constantly changing into one form and through utilization or decay into another. In the cells of our human body, we take in thermo-electric energy from our sun that has been converted into plant life (and up the food chain into animal life) in the form of glucose (sugar). Tiny organelles in each of our cells called mitochondria convert the sugar transported by blood (“blood sugar”) into energy to power every organ, muscle, and neuron. These 1000-2500 power houses extract energy from food and supply it to all parts of every cell in an energy currency called ATP. The healthier and more efficient our mitochondria are, the healthier and more efficient our bodies are.

How To Fix Low Energy

Now if energy is never created or destroyed, how come we feel like we are losing energy? Aging and our lifestyle choices affect the efficiency and longevity of our mitochondria. Oxidation (the bombardment of mitochondria and other cell components with “free radical” electrons from energy production), nutrient deficiencies, and environmental toxins are the root causes. According to Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, “the better a species does at protecting its mitochondria, the longer a species lives”. So, in a nutshell, we need to ensure our lifestyle supports our mitochondria operating efficiently.

Optimize Your Nutrition and Meal Timing

The primary way mitochondria are protected from ‘oxidative stress’ is through plant-based dietary building blocks containing CoQ10, manganese, glutathione, and vitamin E from omega 3 oils. Then there is the need for rest. Intermittent Fasting for as close as possible to 12 hrs through the night, gives the mitochondria a break from energy production so they can repair and regenerate.

Reduce Toxin Exposure

Decreasing toxin exposure (plastics, petrochemicals, heavy metals, alcohol, etc.) lessons damage.

Build Muscle Mass

And, building muscle mass counters the diminishing number of mitochondria as we age. Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates warn us about sedentarism contributing to a loss of muscle mass prematurely lowering our number of mitochondria and ATP production. Strength training rebuilds energy-producing mitochondria in our muscle cells.

Reduce Stress Hormone Cortisol

Stress reduction is important to lowering cortisol which through both the increase of inflammation and reduction of ATP production becomes another energy zapper.

Prioritize Sleep

It’s one thing to target longevity through incorporating as many balanced health lifestyle habits as possible (refer to the previous blog on Blue Zone Centenarian lifestyle commonalities), but living consciously now with a focus on supporting our cellular energy engines and maintaining a charged battery with deep sleep will keep you feeling youthful until your ‘due date’.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

How To Live a Long Life | 6 Common Habits Of The Oldest People on Earth

There are cultures of centenarian populations around the world that have been studied by researchers and chronicled by National Geographic for decades. They have been labeled the Blue Zones, and they live the longest of anyone on this planet. They have common lifestyle components that researchers believe are the contributing factors to their longevity. Here are 6 of their longevity habits to consider weaving into your life to increase your lifespan and healthspan:

1. Move naturally

The longest-living people in the world don’t go to gyms. They walk, a lot, outdoors and tend to their gardens.

2. Sense of purpose

Knowing why you get up every day is worth seven years of extra life expectancy! Contemplate who you are as a unique individual, and consider how you can share your strengths and gifts to others.

3. Shed stress

Centenarians have stress like you and me, they just incorporate practices in their daily routines to let it go. Prayer, meditation, compassion, and gratitude are the most common.

4. Eat to Nourish

The diet of these people is mostly plant, high in omega 3 oils, with limited alcohol consumption. They also eat slowly and mindfully enough to notice satiation and stop eating when they feel 80% full.

5. Belong

Belonging to something that connects you to a context beyond the day-to-day mundane living and anchors the ups and downs of life to a sense of trust and faith adds 4-14 yrs to our life expectancy.

6. Find Your “Tribe”

Putting loved ones first (but not at the sake of ourselves), and maintaining regular connections to a tight tribe of friends and community that care and inspire us enriches our life through loving relations and shared growth.

We wish you the best of luck on your journey to a long and happy life.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

What To Do If You Are Feeling Lonely

There is no doubt that this year of isolation during the pandemic has had a toll on young and old alike—universally, we all feel a bit lonely. Unfortunately, this doesn’t just affect our mood—we now know from studying the elder population that loneliness and isolation also have a negative effect on our health and longevity. Research has shown that people who feel lonely or isolated are at increased risk for developing coronary artery disease, stroke, depression, high blood pressure, declining thinking skills, an inability to perform daily living tasks, depression, and an early death. Feeling lonely doesn’t have to be your path forward.

First, we need to understand the difference between “feeling lonely” and “feeling alone”. The difference is a mix of attitude, lifestyle habits, and life context. Inevitably, we are all alone. We are alone with our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and experiences. What we do with our aloneness is what creates feelings of loneliness or self-comfort.

However you get to a state of feeling lonely, we are here to help. Here is a collection of 7 suggestions to consider that directly affect your health and happiness day to day as well as your lifespan and healthspan.

1. Connect Meaningfully

Connect with family, friends, and even strangers. Taking the courage to reach out, keeps us moving towards others rather than shying away. Whether by phone, via video chat, or even by talking with your neighbors across the fence or a stranger in a park, know that doing so builds confidence and a sense of deservedness to belong to all of humanity.

2. Be Thankful

Loneliness can lead us to focus on ourselves and our hardships. Aim to express appreciation toward friends, family, strangers, and personally through ‘gratitude practices’.

3. Focus on what you can change

Spending time dwelling on our or the world’s current struggles can perpetuate helplessness which leads to disempowerment and loneliness. Consider focusing your attention on something that is within your sphere of influence, or taking a small step towards making a change to empower yourself.

4. Enjoy “being” while “doing”

Whether completing a chore, doing something creative, or going for a walk, savor your experience in order to live it fully. When we do the world feels fuller and we feel more connected to it.

5. Remove negativity

Consider taking a break from the news, or at least limiting your consumption.

6. Be kind, understanding, and patient

Work on treating yourself and others with compassion. Did you know the act of smiling can actually make you feel better?
Develop a routine that provides balance: Create a daily plan that includes physical activity (ideally out of doors whenever possible), time for connecting with loved ones, a creative pursuit, and something pleasurably relaxing (warm bath with essential oils, candlelight yoga, reading something inspiring).

7. Seek help

We may live alone and feel like we need to talk deeply with someone who can help us if we are in a place of confusion or uncertainty. Counseling Therapists and Life Coaches are available to support us even online.

We live in a very fast-paced world with lots of stressors and distractions. It’s hard for us to believe we can enjoy being alone, as we’ve wired our brain, nervous system, and hormonal balance for constant stimulation. Whether we live alone or in a busy household, taking time daily to be with ourselves is critical for balanced mental and emotional health. It allows us to slow down enough to notice how we are feeling, and what kinds of thoughts we are generating or obsessing about. We only truly get to know who we are and what our deepest needs are when we stop, breathe, and become curious. The more we practice this noticing or mindfulness, the more comfortable we can be in our own skin whether we live alone or with others.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

How Chronic Inflammation Causes Metabolic Disease, Dementia, and Cancer

According to the Mayo Clinic, 90% of the illnesses they deal with are caused by lifestyle, while only 10% are congenital. These are illnesses we have all come to accept as just a part of life, aging, and luck; demential, diabetes, and cancer to name a few. But now, more than ever, we are realizing that there is something familiar, yet very misunderstood at root of those lifestyle illnesses: inflammation. Specifically, chronic inflammation.

Acute Vs. Chronic Inflammation

Acute inflammation is the body’s immune and repair response to an injury or a harmful substance or invader entering our body. Low-grade chronic inflammation is the result of an imbalance in our immune function due to ongoing stress or lifestyle choices that keep our immune system working overtime. Research is showing us that balanced health measures that prioritize regular movement (through a variety of exercises), an anti-inflammatory fiber-rich diet, deep regular 7-9 hr sleep, and stress-reducing activities like meditation coupled with trauma resolution therapy, counter chronic inflammation and reduce the likelihood of contracting these and other diseases.

Chronic Inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome is a combination of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke (and its contribution to dementia), and cancer. These conditions include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance, abnormal negative cholesterol levels, and chronic inflammation from an overactive immune system. Metabolic syndrome, obesity (over 30% body fat), and type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance) are interconnected. All 3 are linked by genetic markers, overeating an unhealthy diet, and lack of consistent movement/exercise… as well as a chronic state of inflammation in the body. Most of us think that fat cells are inert storage containers, however, newer research has shown that belly fat is metabolically active and produces pro-inflammatory substances that contribute to insulin resistance. It’s confusing, but chronic low-grade inflammation has been identified as both a cause and consequence of metabolic syndrome!

Chronic Inflammation and Cancer

When infections, autoimmune responses, or conditions such as obesity go unchecked the ensuing inflammation can promote the growth and replication of cancer cells. Type 2 diabetes (from insulin resistance) is associated with a higher risk of liver, pancreas, ovary, lung, bladder, and breast cancers. According to Harvard Health reports, chronic inflammation and high blood sugar levels also contribute to the general development of cancer cells through the damage to cellular DNA and the creation of an environment hospitable to cancer growth. An estimated 1 in 5 cancer cases stem from a combination of excess fat stores, inactivity, poor nutrition, excess alcohol use, and unresolved stressors.

Chronic Inflammation and Dementia

Dementia including Alzheimer’s, like heart disease, has its root cause in plaque build up in arteries and between neurons. Research still isn’t clear about what is behind these protein deposits, but what we know is the protein plaque deposits in brain tissue and cardiac arteries initiate an immune response. Microglia and white blood cells will attempt to eradicate the plaque, but it isn’t as easy to destroy as viruses or harmful bacteria. Cytokines and other inflammatory chemicals are released in a long-held effort which amps up the immune system creating more chronic inflammation. Research is also seeing how chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, atherosclerotic heart disease, and diabetes have been linked to an increased risk for depression! Recent findings suggest inflammation may increase depression risk by suppressing the birth of new brain cells (neurogenesis).

Though there are many ongoing experiments and tests utilizing medications like anti-inflammatories to help turn off an over-functioning immune system and lower chronic inflammation, the safest and most effective approach is to focus on lifestyle interventions like diet, exercise, stress reduction, sleep depth, and detoxification.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

Food Sensitivities and Elimination Diets

We all inhabit different bodies. With that comes an almost infinite variety of genetic variations, four different blood types, and unique reactions to our inner and outer environments. Some of us have allergies to pollen, bee venom, nuts, or shellfish. Some of us get runny noses in the spring and some of us have itchy skin when we wear wool. Just as there are no two fingerprints the same in all of humanity, there is no digestive or immune system alike.

When our body finds a certain food difficult to digest, it can be like a stressor to our internal organs. If we eat too much of a particular food or eat it too often, it can not only inflame our intestinal tract but can also invoke our immune system to counteract the food particle’s effects once it passes into our bloodstream. This adds even more stress on many of our systems. Our stress hormone cortisol will rise, our mucous membranes may become inflamed, and our energy levels will drop as our body fights to eliminate the unwanted particles. A variety of symptoms ranging from those that are barely noticeable to some that are chronically depleting are unique to each of us. To add to this complexity, if we’ve been consuming certain foods over a lifetime, we may not be mindful that our body finds certain items distressing as we have desensitized ourselves to the symptoms or the energy drain.

Determining whether any particular food stresses our bodies can seem daunting. But if we take the approach of being an investigator, and bring mindful curiosity and a willingness to experiment with our nutrition, it is possible to become free of the internal stress and regain health and vitality. There are three basic categories of digestive and immune difficulties when it comes to eating.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are typically an acute immune response to proteins in certain foods that our body isn’t designed to digest and assimilate. Common allergies are shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts. The reaction is often so strong that it can be life threatening.

Food Intolerances

Food intolerances are non-immune based responses to difficulty digesting certain foods. These substances may be certain sugars or proteins which we are not genetically able to produce the digestive components to down and assimilate them. This inability can lead to digestive inflammation. An example could be lactose a sugar found in dairy foods not being able to be broken down by people who stop producing lactase after the age of 2.

Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities are again unique to each of us and could be to certain chemical compounds that are found naturally in certain foods like alkaloids in the ‘nightshade’ family, or histamines in fermented food and beverages, dried fruits and avocados, or salicylates found in some foods and medications such as aspirin. We can also be highly sensitive to certain chemical compounds found in our food such as pesticides (like glyphosate), and food additives. These foods or substances cause a delayed immune reaction that may not peak symptomatically for 3 days after ingestion, making it difficult to pin point the stress causing culprit.

Common symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances

  • Bloating in our lower belly after eating including gas and or water retention in the bowels.
  • Irregular bowel movements or stool consistency.
  • Water retention throughout the body.
  • Joint pain.
  • Sniffling, runny nose, postnasal drip, or sneezing.
  • Itchy skin or skin eruptions like eczema, or acne.
  • Brain fog, headaches, low energy, mood shifts.
  • Asthma or other respiratory difficulties.
  • Poor depth of sleep.
  • Low functioning immune system leading frequent bouts of cold and flu.
  • Cravings for carb, fat, and salt snacks to offset the increased levels of cortisol from internal stress on our digestive and immune system.

Health professionals like a Naturopathic Dr., or Allopathic Dr. (MD) can help determine whether we are reacting to an allergy, intolerance or sensitivity. They may employ blood work, or a skin prick sampling of a specific food or chemical to look for immune or inflammation measures. At Mountain Trek, we prefer utilizing an “Elimination Diet”, in conjunction with a Naturopathic Dr., where you strategically remove suspected foods and chemicals for 14-30 days. Important to this effort is mindfully self monitoring and journalling to track physical, mental, emotional and energetic reactions when carefully and strategically adding items back into our diet. It is worth the experiment to reclaim our balanced health and energy!

Learn more about symptoms and elimination diets from Mountain Trek’s Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Kimberley.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

How To Find A Sense Of Purpose

You are not alone if you feel like a strong sense of purpose is missing this year. A crisis of purpose is a natural symptom of isolation—living in times of uncertainty as well as aloneness from not being able to give to others effectively isolates our authentic self. According to the University of Berkley, a strong sense of purpose arises when we reflect on our past and present, as well as our beliefs, values, and behaviors, skills and weaknesses, gifts, and talents. These aspects of our life point us to our authentic selves. This reflection can be exercised by journaling, contemplation, mindfulness, and self-awareness. Invoking curiosity about the choices we have been making, the mistakes and the success in our life, as well as the beliefs and habits that may not serve us anymore allows us to gain the clarity and motivation to make choices that lead us to a more meaningful and fulfilling future.

Meaning contains our values, goals, and self-worth. Purpose is the motivation to align to and give from that meaning. As we become clear with our meaning and invoke purpose, we leave our individual focus and find a community of others that we feel aligned with and can give through. The venue for giving may be through family, work, charity, volunteerism, mentoring, or creativity. Purpose is adaptive as it helps us as individuals (research shows it is associated with better mental and physical health), and it helps the species survive. We are wired to cooperate rather than to compete.

Here are some considerations for overcoming isolation and discovering your purpose:

Expand Your Perspective

Reading spiritual, philosophical, poetic, and secular fiction can connect us to the spectrum of humanity and help us align with values, beliefs, and meaning


Purpose is not just an intellectual focus, it needs to align with our inner feelings. It can often grow from self or witnessed suffering.

Cultivate awe, gratitude, and altruism

Awe gives us the context to connect to something greater than ourselves. Gratitude and generosity supply the drive to contribute to making a positive impact in the world. The generous desire to give to others and the appreciation we feel for the many blessings in our life are both wired to the same neurological centers in the brain and are rewarded with feel-good hormones.

Connect With Like-minded People

We may feel alone with our unique sense of purpose, but once we are clear, it is important to connect to like visioned people, both to break the sense of isolation and to give with.

Reposition Your Mindset

A sense of purpose at work is vital to our happiness. We can either have a “job mindset” where we go to work to perform duties for compensation, a “career mindset” when we prioritize salary, title, power, or sphere of control, or a “purpose mindset” when we are able to align our personal and professional life meaning. If we can feel like we are making an impact for ourselves and others—an impact that is congruent to our authentic self and purpose—we will be passionate and want to give our best to the job. If on the other hand we are bored, or disempowered, or spend more than 50% of our time in the “job” or “career” mindset we will be dissatisfied and likely will fall into isolation. If we have the desire to contribute more of our authentic self through our work, and there isn’t the availability for that, we may have to find an alternative venue outside of the office in order to give our authentic gifts, strengths, passion, and purpose to have a sense of meaning in our life. Authenticity, meaning, and purpose are intrinsic to our mental, emotional and spiritual balance.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

How To Be Your Most Authentic Self

There is something refreshing and compelling about engaging with someone who knows their values and purpose and unabashedly shares that with the world. When we engage with these genuine, authentic people we often feel comfortable with them, and while they may have strong ideas and opinions, they communicate their thoughts and beliefs without a need to convince others that they are right. They also tend to walk their talk. Qualities that shine as genuine self-esteem.

While it may seem that these traits are innate and untrainable, that isn’t the case. No matter who you are, or where you come from, you can discover and nurture your own genuine, authentic self. And not just because it might make you more interesting, but more importantly; proud, confident, and happy to be the one and only you that walks this planet.

The Evolution of Authenticity

Homo sapiens, aka us humans, are neurologically wired in our limbic (social) brain to belong and fit in. Being a part of a tribe is what allowed us to survive against predators, and being cast out from this tribe was the worst form of punishment as it meant certain death. Today, however, when most encounters with predators are accompanied by a thick pane of glass, the tables have turned. Now, people who stand out from the crowd are the ones lauded, revered, and rewarded. They are the creatives, the entrepreneurs, the vanguards. The ones who have a deep-rooted, often inexplicable, need to break from the pack and forge their own path. This level of genuine, authentic character lies deep within all of us, however—oftentimes it’s just unheard, or, outright ignored, and needs to be teased out. Below are some considerations for discovering and incorporating more authenticity into your life.

Authenticity starts with self-reflection

Steve Jobs once said, “You are already naked, there is no reason not to follow your heart.” This simple statement is foundational to being authentic, as we are all essentially physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually naked. On one hand, we are all similar humans with common fears, longings and needs, and on the other, we are as individual as our fingerprint. Authenticity requires stopping the doings of life to create the space and time to contemplate and reflect with naked honesty on our unique gifts and talents, our personal values and beliefs, and our sense of purpose for our life. This self-study starts with our thoughts and intuition but develops as we practice moment-to-moment mindful noticing of what our bodily sensations are telling us, and, with curiosity, what feelings and thoughts accompany those sensations. This builds an internal compass that moves us through the world and provides direction when we’re not sure which way is up.

Authenticity requires vulnerability

Seeing your life as an adventure, or experiment for learning and self-growth, is an important mindset on the journey to discovering your authentic self. This mindset allows you to accept the inevitable mistakes and stumbles along the path and fills you with the courage to chart your own course even if it’s not the same path as your family, community, or culture. Genuine people not only know the naked truth about their successes and failings, good and not-so-good characteristics and traits, but they are openly vulnerable with others and are able to see their polarities in perspective as a human on the path to the freedom attained with being authentic. This complete acceptance of our whole self without judgment, self-criticism, or loathing builds self-compassion, which in turn expands our heart’s capacity to allow others to also be fully human themselves. Compassion for others and vulnerability for themselves are two distinct traits of authentic people.

Authentic People Disregard External Expectations

Author and Professor Brené Brown says, “let go of who you think you are supposed to be and embrace who you are”. People who are aligned to their authentic self do not waste energy trying to be something other people want them to be. They embrace their true selves, life, and the world around them. Because they have an internal alignment to growth and freedom rather than operating from a fear of not meeting external expectations or the parameters of others, they have genuine self-worth. They avoid putting on masks to fit in with others (except during covid), which saves energy for manifesting their dreams. They may consciously adjust their style of communication with different people, but do not change the essence of what they stand for.

An Authentic Motto: Progress over perfection

Achieving perfection is a tall, almost impossible, order, yet it’s typically what we expect of ourselves. Striving for perfection only allows for one single possible outcome to satisfy us, when in reality, 99.9% of the time we arrive at a different destination. Ultimately this means that an overwhelming majority of the probable outcomes will be seen as failure, which when finally considered, can incite crippling anxiety. Fear of failure sets in and inaction ensues. On the other side of the coin, authentic people strive for progress over perfection. Their fear of failure is replaced with personal responsibility and integrity for doing their best from being the most aligned that they can be in any given moment.

Authenticity is a Skill, not a Trait

Because we live in a highly competitive and judgemental world full of criticism, opinions, and polarization, layered with inappropriate images and messages of unrealistic beauty, attainment, and expectations, we need a practice to connect with our essential truth. This practice is mindfulness and compassion. Mindfulness creates the noticing and curiosity to resonate with what is true in our body and mind, and compassion enlarges our heart to include ourselves and others without the paralysis that comes from shame-induced judgment and criticism, the main hurdle to following our heart. Learn more about mindfulness and meditation.

When we genuinely believe in our truth and confirm it by paying attention to our body sensations and feelings, we align ourselves internally and externally. Then there is no reason not to follow our hearts and support others to do the same.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

How to increase willpower and motivation

Lately, we’re hearing more of our guests say they are having difficulty focusing, making decisions, and following through with actions they know would be in their best interest both at work and in my personal life. It’s not easy to perform as well as we would like mentally or emotionally during times of stress—and this past year has certainly been one of the most stressful in our lives! Here is the latest neuroscience on willpower, decision making, and motivation to help you do your best.

Our decision-making “muscle”, commonly called willpower, resides in the prefrontal cortex of our brain. It is the executive functioning center that helps us weigh the pros and cons of a decision from a logical perspective. These deliberate value-based decisions vs our endless reactive and automatic unconscious decisions max out at approximately 75 per day. According to researchers at Cornell University, the average North American adult is making 35,000 decisions a day (226 just about food)!

The most successful decision-makers don’t have super willpower, rather, they conserve willpower by developing routines and habits that help them avoid having to make inconsequential decisions. These mental energy conservationists know what researchers are confirming; making too many decisions and wading (or surfing) through too much information depletes cognitive resources and decision power.

Multitasking is another mental energy drain that results in poor decision-making, mental fatigue, shallow thinking, and impaired self-regulation. It takes energy to jump from task to task, and even more energy to attain a level of focus where we perform our best. Focus on one task, do it really well, then move on.

Motivation is the force that drives our decisions through to completion. We have intrinsic motivation, which is driven by our internal value set. We are motivated to make decisions and take actions that align with our “authentic self,” and are rewarded when we do so—an increase in brain stimulation in our learning and creativity centers is seen when make decisions that align with our values. We also have extrinsic motivation. We feel this form of motivation when we receive external rewards such as awards, praise, status, a raise, or bragging rights. Extrinsic motivation is rewarded by our feel-good hormone dopamine. Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play a role in progressing towards our goals.

When under duress, motivation wanes and is replaced with anxiety (fear of failure), burnout (depleted energy reserves), and low self-esteem (competitive self-comparisons). Here is a list of options for you to consider to boost your decision-making willpower as well as your motivational energy.

How To Cultivate Will Power

  • Work in focused time blocks and avoid multi-tasking. Minimize interruptions by turning off prompts, alerts, and auto feeds.
  • After focusing with uninterrupted concentration, set a time limit to followup on emails, texts, and important information feeds.
  • Trust your subconscious “gut instinct” for the less important decisions. Neuroscientists have found that our intuitive subconscious is able to make a decision several seconds before our prefrontal cortex can, and does so without “over-thinking”.
  • Practice daily meditation and mindfulness. A study by INSEAD and The Wharton School showed 15 minutes of concentration and awareness practice made smarter choices while derailing compulsive and addictive patterns.
  • Ensure that self-resourcing and self-regulation punctuate the focus and admin time allotments to keep the brain fueled, oxygenated, and less stressed.

How To Cultivate Motivation

  • Set SMART goals.
  • Pre-analyze potential obstacles and list solutions.
  • Reflect on the benefits of following through on a decision in a journal to build mindfulness skills. Importantly, hold an experimentational mindset.
  • Include fun in some of the decisions to cultivate dopamine rewards.
  • Enlist support from others for emotional alignment.
  • When possible, find alignment to your internal authentic values, and trust that following through will enrich you.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

Stop coping with mental and emotional stress and start resourcing

Q: I’m noticing that while coping with the mental and emotional stress of Covid 19 over the last year, my habits of relaxing don’t seem to be working. What can I do?

A: We all have various activities and behaviors that help us cope with uncontrollable situations. It’s humanly natural to avoid adverse or uncomfortable circumstances, as they generate a survival response in our subconscious brain, nervous, and hormonal systems. The uneasiness or duress is often connected to active or passive trauma experiences from our childhood (this is why all stress is individual). When something in our world destabilizes us like a pandemic, war, an economic crash on a societal scale, job change, illness, or having to work from home with our kids, we can feel uncertain, groundless, and wary—this can initiate a state of anxiousness.

To avoid this dysregulating cascade, we have habituated various forms of pleasure, soothing, and numbing to create a false sense of happiness and stability. Our brain is wired to release “feel-good” hormones in response to these coping strategies, but the momentary happiness we receive from the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin doesn’t rectify the situation. Inevitably, wine and guacamole, Netflix, and online shopping don’t lower our stress, and eventually, these actions lose their momentary pleasure potency. What our mind, body, heart, and spirit really need in difficult times is resourcing.

If we can get over the hurdle of deservedness, and truly resource rather than soothe, we can find resilience, vitality, peacefulness, and joy even when immersed in adversity. Considering that our society aims at keeping us developmentally in the state of the myopic self-absorption of an early teen (who would prefer a chocolate bar topped with sea salt for immediate gratification to release the feel-good hormones over an action we need to schedule), we need to energy manage our will power’s decision making through our day to have the reserves to decide as an adult to invest in our well being.

Here are a few considerations to self resource rather than cope and soothe:

  • “Own your day” by bookending the 1st and last 5 minutes just for you (not work, kids, a news feed, or social media), perhaps to pause and notice body sensations, arising emotions and quality of thoughts, journal, meditate or stretch.
  • “Bookend your workday” start and finish at the same time (as much as possible), but work more efficiently with periods of undistracted focus followed by 5-10 minutes of getting up, moving, and changing your mental state. Eat a snack, stretch, breathe deeply, write down 3 things you are grateful for, or have a tea in your garden.
  • Consider replacing happy hour a couple of times a week with these research-proven activities that lower Cortisol and bathe our brain with serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin: pat a pet for 5 min; enjoy a creative pursuit and drop into the ‘flow state’ for 20 min; cuddle, tickle, wrestle or massage your child or grandchild or make love with your mate for 20 min; walk or hike in nature while mindfully noticing moment to moment what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling on your skin for 20 min; unite your mind and body with 20 min of yoga, Tai Chi or meditation practice.
  • Prioritize movement/exercise, healthy nutrition, deep sleep, detoxing, and choices that actually lower stress and minimize anxiety throughout the week in order to balance your hormones, maintain an active anabolic metabolism and keep energized.
  • Enrich your weekend with fun outdoor activities with others, or take up gardening, the most recently researched long-term happiness-inducing activity.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below: