For the past wee while I’ve been working on dealing with discouragement. A lot of it surrounds education and career prospects, but that’s not really what I’m getting into here.
I’ve noticed that when I get bad news, or am feeling particularly bad, I start to feel like I’m just bursting to get out of my own skin. Perhaps it’s flight or fight response, in a sort of modern day and delayed way. I’m not brimming with adrenaline so much, but I just feel like I need to do something. At my worst, I feel like I just need to run away. Or like I could start driving, and just go – drive until the end of the road, or until I can’t drive anymore. (A notion which held a lot more appeal in the USA I must say, where one can spend hours ‘running’ on the interstate network without feeling like they are anywhere). Although the appeal of all the above still holds strong, these days, I find I need to walk.
If you’d told me a a year ago that I’d best deal with upsetting news by going out and walking for an hour or more, I’d have thought you were crazy. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who doesn’t like exercise. To a large extent, it’s still true. I don’t like running, or sweating copious amounts, and I don’t think I’ll ever naturally be a gym bunny. But there’s something about the constant, slow, steady repetition of walking that is soothing to the soul. Maybe it’s a semi literal walking away from my problems. Maybe it’s the plodding nature of my walks. Maybe it’s just the fact of doing some action even if it doesn’t directly address whatever crisis or problem is presenting.
I haven’t done any bushwalks for awhile. To a large extent, I’ve been busy doing lots of other things. But there’s also the fact that I just haven’t felt up to the preparation and planning and allotted time that a bushwalk takes. Time that, for the most part, is enjoyable, and heightens the sense of anticipation of the walk in a lot of cases. But it’s still time, and mental effort, and neither is something I’ve felt in abundant supply of lately.
Instead, I’ve grabbed walks wherever I could find them, focusing much less on what and where and much more so on just walking.
Sometimes this is on specific walking trails.
Sometimes it’s along footpaths in the suburbs.
Sometimes it’s just where I happen to be.
Wherever it is, it’s always healing. It doesn’t fix any actual problems. It provides a clearer headspace though, a chance to breathe and think things over – or – escape things entirely.
Plus, I usually find interesting things I wouldn’t notice otherwise, that make me smile.