The wonders of walking

July 28, 2020

Hello all, it's been a while! Today I have a cheery post (for once - woo!) I've recently taken up walking, and the benefits for my mental health have been SO amazing I couldn't help but share it with you.
Rewind to a couple weeks back, and I was having a really terrible morning. OK, most mornings are pretty difficult to be honest, as I often wake up brimming with anxiety, feeling very on edge, a big knot in my chest. Mornings tend to be when my harsh self-critic says horrible stuff to me too, like "You're not good enough unless you're highly successful. What are you doing with your life? You should be doing more, more, more." Or some version of that. Some days I sort of half-successfully ignore the anxiety and try to get on with my day. Other days it's so debilitating, I collapse in a heap on the floor in tears. And of course, there's everything in-between. 

My mornings have been like this for years, which has over time created a negative loop I previously thought was impossible to break. I wake up feeling anxious, which then creates more anxiety about being anxious every morning, so then because I know it's coming I pre-empt it, then the whole cycle begins again etc! It's been such a huge problem for me, as starting the day off so negatively makes it super hard to have a good, or an even OK, day. I'll also add here that I work as a freelance musician, so my mornings are mostly work-free spent around the house.

Anyway, on that particular morning, my lack of communication to my partner about how I was feeling caused conflict between us. It's really hard on him. I felt really hopeless, spinning into a downward spiral. "Something HAS to change," I thought to myself. After a long discussion over what to do, I decided that I'd try going for a walk first thing every morning, as soon as I get up. 

And it's worked SO well

It's really transformed my mornings. As soon as I get up I get dressed, make my flask of tea, grab a breakfast bar, and head straight out. There are some lovely walks around the area where I live in Wandsworth, South West London, and it's been great fun exploring new routes. I find that walking briskly really helps with my breathing (usually it's very short and shallow due to anxiety), and looking around at the scenery helps focus my mind on the present moment. Just getting moving and myself out into the world has helped me sooo much. I can feel those endorphins being released which really helps lift my mood.

A big part of my walks is listening to some upbeat songs on full blast. I've even made a Spotify playlist called Positives Vibes. Music helps pump some positivity into my veins, and has always helped me connect with myself more. It's honestly such a mood-booster. 

The anxious feelings and thoughts gradually lift, and I return home in a much better mood - more energised, relaxed, and ready for the day. It leaves me feeling more connected to myself and the world, I feel more full of life. And after walking 5 miles, I feel so proud of myself, increasing my confidence and self-esteem. It also gives me some purpose in otherwise filled-with-nothing mornings. It's a win, win, WIN! 

Of course, there are some days when I still feel down or anxious whilst walking, so I take a gentler walk and don't push myself too hard. Even when I feel low, the walks still lift my mood somewhat.

So yeah, give walking a try! It has honestly been so amazing for me, and I had some very persistent anxiety in the mornings. 

Thanks for reading and sending you all my strength in your recovery. 

Alicia x

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