The Power of Walking
A little bit of background about me, I’ve been experiencing anxiety and depression my whole life; I’m doing a lot better, though, for the past 2–3 years back. I have made so many breakthroughs and evolved as a human being, but the anxiety and depression are still there. It might not come as often and intense as it was, but it is still there.
I indeed have this moment in my life, and there must be this phase; this is why I always tell myself that I am a work in progress. I might not know if this anxiety and depression will be gone one day completely, but I got to the point of accepting the worst. I was mad and frustrated because I have this mental illness in me. I felt that I was not normal. I even had difficulty accepting who I am. I was so mad with the universe that I blamed them for having this illness. I was always furious. “What did I do to deserve this?
So after a series of counseling, reading a self-help book, watching TED talks, and giving myself the knowledge that life is not Black and White or Yin and Yang, I successfully changed my outlook: “This Mental Illness might be the part of me and what I can do is find a way to cope. There’s no point denying the fact that I am ill. And it is okay to be ill.”
I’ve been feeling so depressed for the past few weeks. I struggle to focus on my job and courses, work to move my ass out of the house, and when I do, I can’t keep up with it long enough.
I have been observing myself for the past few weeks like I keep asking myself, “How do I feel, and why do I think I feel that way.” It wasn’t an easy question I am asking myself, for sure. But my psychologist always tells me, “You know that you’re evolving when you handle things in your difficulty, you observe instead of judging, and you slow down instead of being impulsive to distract what you are feeling.”
So how do I slow down? I am taking a walk. Yes, a walk.
Trust me, it’s not easy to move myself to go for a walk, but we have to force ourselves sometimes to keep our sanity. To cope. To help ourselves.
So, I took a walk for 30 minutes. I know for a fact that walking is indeed always had a good effect on us, but knowing isn’t the same as doing.
While I’m walking, I leave my phone at home. I don’t listen to music; I just walk. I choose to do it at night time because the weather is nicer and it’s also quieter. So I took a walk. While walking, I had a serious conversation with myself. The conversation was more about my observation of how I feel and why I think I’m feeling like this.
The duration of my walk is 30 minutes; I keep on being present in my surroundings and pay attention to what sensation I am sensing in my body. After that, I sat on a bench, continuing my long-deep-convo with myself for another 30 minutes, and I went back to my place.
After that? I am feeling so much better. My mind isn’t as cloudy; I feel like I’m slowly getting back on my feet again. In fact, I finally did my very first storytelling in writing after I took a walk.
About having a conversation with yourself: I must say that I have learned a lot from my counseling session on how to observe and do self-reflections — so these skills come in handy when it’s needed. The key to having a healthy conversation with ourselves is Self Compassion. It’s not easy to be compassionate to ourselves when we have vicious obsessive thoughts. This takes a lot of practice, and trust me; I often slip too.
Walking triggers the release of endorphins and immediately helps you relieve anxiety and pain. The higher your level of endorphins, the greater your sense of calm and well-being! No wonder walking makes us feel so good and elevates our mood almost instantly. And the beauty is, one can walk anytime, anywhere.
I also read that morning walks have other important benefits too. Investing significant time in pursuing walking can get your mind off stress and give you a feeling of detachment from the daily pressures of life. By unwinding and giving your mind the space to meander, you may be able to see the situation in a different positive light. You may even come up with a solution to your problem.
After this walk, I committed to myself: “I will walk first thing in the morning for 15–30 minutes” and the last thing before I go to bed for another 15–30 minutes. Fingers crossed for us! I hope I can keep this up and be disciplined.
Happy to share my story here on Medium.
Take care till then!