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Walking: The New Anti-Depressant

bee
A photo of “Bob” taken on my walk

Walking

Simple. We do it every day. Well, most of us. There are some who cannot, do not, or will not. The first is nature, the second may be because of obligation, but the third is by choice.

I’ve often fallen into the third category.

Walking is the simplest, easiest, and least stressful form of activity possible. It’s almost “too good” to be true. That’s why I started back up.

Yesterday, I was frustrated. Pissed, really.

I was having a usual Bipolar Agitation Day. I make it sound so “official”, don’t I? It is basically a day that comes and goes where every bit of noise is like the sound of nails screeching on an old chalkboard.

Sounds like a little piece of heaven, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s not. It’s kind of like my own personal hell, but I’m learning to deal with it. My coping mechanism: walking.

Why walking?

I’m glad you asked. I’ve decided to do at least 10 minutes a day, most days of the week, and not even count it as a workout. It’s just something I do. What I’m finding is that even a few moments walking up the hill in my sandals (yes, sandals), releases so much energy out of me and gives me a chance to quiet my noisy and out of control mind. It gives me perspective, forces me to slow down and look around.  Most days, I find a gift.

The Gift of Walking

Yesterday, my gift was the picture you see at the beginning of the blog. A simple bumble bee.

Now, you don’t know me, but when I tell you, “I HATE BEES” this is by no stretch of the imagination, quite an understatement. If I could reach through your computer, I would scream to you “I HATE BEES”, but I can’t, so my angry, fully-capitalized text has to prove it to you.

I hate bees because of a trauma in my childhood, but what I’ve noticed is that when I have a camera in my hand, all fear ceases. I feel empowered and excited to get “the shot”.

That’s what these walks have been doing for me. I was inches away from Bob (the name of the Bumble Bee, not to be confused with Gary the Groundhog who also lives in my neighborhood) when I got the shot.

It reminded me, in that moment, to slow down, observe, breathe and experience life around me.

Observing life is so much less stressful than speaking it. It’s helping me refuel my cup and I am starting to see why wisdom is deeply rooted in observation because you can learn so much from the world around you.

The Wisdom of Walking

So, for me, my daily walks with Ladybug have been a chance to practice mindfulness. They’ve been a chance to focus on each step, breath, site and experience in that moment. Each step is a chance to take the energy from my head, release it to the ground, and draw the power of the ground back into my body, hence the term “grounded”.

I am able to step outside of my mind and into my body for those 10 minutes and it is phenomenal.

I encourage you to try a 10-minute walk today.

Walk away from your desk.

Walk out of your office.

Close the computer.

Connect.

Connect with yourself, your body, and the world around you.

Get out and walk.

Pick a time. For me, 10 minutes is committable and anything more is “extra”.  My goal is most days of the week.

I always look for pictures (this helps me with observing). I don’t always take them. Yesterday, I shot, and today, I just observed.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this. 

Just walk.  I put on sandals because I can feel the grass in-between my toes, the dirt on my feet, the sticky air of a hot summer day and the cool breeze that cuts through it to remind you that life includes some things that cannot be seen, only felt.

Consider a walk today.

I’m not saying it’s going to replace your Cymbalta, Wellbutrin, or Zoloft, but you never know; it may help you in ways a pill never could.

Recovery is not a one-time event, whether we’re talking about addiction or mental illness, recovery is a series of small steps, to be done, again and again.

I encourage you to take a step today and if you want some bonus points: CREATE SOMETHING!

Let me hear about any insights, gains, or experiences you have while out on your walk.

Enjoy and rejuvenate,

Dan

 

 

 

Walking: The New Anti-Depressant


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APA Reference
, . (2016). Walking: The New Anti-Depressant. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 25, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/desk-couch/2016/07/walking-the-new-anti-depressant/

 

Last updated: 20 Jul 2016
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