When people think of self-care, they usually picture baths, cleaning, and meditation. At least, that’s what I tend to envision for self-care. Most of the time, when I talk about it with friends, I notice one thing that typically doesn’t come up. Nobody mentions walking: an easy, convenient, and fruitful self-care technique that is often overlooked.
For some, it may seem complicated. Sure, walking sounds great…but to where? I’d wondered that question plenty of times before it became a habit.
First, I think it’s important to talk about walking in general. In today’s age, where many people spend most of their time behind computer screens or running to work, it’s easy to forget to go outside. It’s hard to just sit back, relax, and pretend the world isn’t going on around you.
Because of this, the first time I considered walking I was nervous. I’d seen other people walking about my neighborhood, but I couldn’t help my fear that someone would see me.
I thought I’d be judged and questioned. I thought people would wonder why I was just walking down the street.
This was clearly an irrational fear. Nobody would be staring out their window contemplating my life decisions. But when you’re scared to try something new, you come up with excuses to push the option away.
I got through that summer, maybe going on one or two walks mixed in with my usual jogging activity before heading off to college.
That’s when things started getting tricky.
Transitioning to college is a hard time. It’s tons of stress. You have to not only get used to being away from home for months, but also make new friends, become comfortable with your roommate, and study hard in classes. My transition was a little rough, and I remembered my thoughts about walking. I had yet to try it, and I thought, what better time than now?
It started when my friends and I wanted to head to this cute bubble tea place about a mile or so away. The problem was that the only transportation to that shop was the shuttle system. Unfortunately, it was the shuttle system’s day off.
So, rather than give up, we decided to walk. It wasn’t exactly short; it took at least forty minutes there and back. But for some reason, that didn’t bother me at all.
I realized something then: walking was actually kind of nice. It calmed me more than I’d expected.
From that moment on, I made it a habit to walk to the bubble tea place nearly every weekend. Sometimes, I couldn’t even go a day without going on the walk. To me, it didn’t matter that it was long, nor that I was walking down the exact same streets every single time. There was just something special about the walks. Something that released my anxiety and allowed me to be comfortable inside my own head for about an hour. It also helped that their bubble tea was super cheap.
Going back to the question of where to walk to, my first instinct is to find somewhere that sells food or drinks. I enjoy walking to these sorts of places because I get the benefit of the walk with the excitement of getting coffee or bubble tea. It’s super motivating to have something to reward you at the end.
More than that, walking is simply beneficial in itself. It’s been said to lower risks for plenty of diseases including diabetes, depression, and heart disease. If you’re looking at living a healthier lifestyle, walking definitely can help.
For me, it’s been an escape from the rush of my work. Plenty of the walks I’ve gone on have been impulsive. I’ll feel myself starting to drown in everything I’m facing, and head straight for my shoes and a couple dollars. Even if you’re not necessarily in the mood for a walk, sometimes, it’s better to just try one out and see if it makes you feel better. If you’re feeling stuck, go on a walk. It may do more good than you’d ever imagine.
While there are plenty of wonderful self-care tips and techniques that people use, I’ve found walking to be the most successful for me. I know that it may not be the best choice for everyone, but I urge you to try it out. It may just become a part of your everyday life as it has become in mine.
The art of walking is simpler than you’d believe. It’s not as scary nor as draining. It’s simply a way to release your emotions and get away from things for a while.
If you’re stuck indoors, feeling absolutely trapped in your own head, the most important thing to do is get out. Walking is the perfect cure for that to keep your mind happy and your body healthy.
Photo by Mishal Ibrahim on Unsplash
Also published on Medium.