September 01, 2021

My Journey With My Mental Health and How I Deal, Part Three: Walking

Third in her From the Lived Experience series, our contributing writer describes benefits to her mental health from taking walks and being present.

By Guest Contributor, Christine Bushrow

Walking has always been excellent for our physical health. Medical professionals recommend it to those who want to lose weight, prevent blood clots, maintain a healthy heart, and help with various other physical health-related issues. It’s also often thought of as an accessible way to ease into physical activity without putting too much strain on yourself. But it’s incredible for our mental health, too! Beloved writers and authors also often revere it as a way to help keep their creativity alive. 

My love for walking grew quickly and deeply. I’ve always been extremely outdoorsy and passionate about nature, but it took me until a couple of years ago to understand the significance of walking. Whenever I wanted or needed to go outside, I’d take a hike. For a while, I always associated the wonderful feelings I experienced after each hike as something that came solely from being out in nature. Of course, nature is irreplaceable and tremendously healing, but it took some time for me to connect the dots that walking itself holds so much power, too. I also learned that while romping through the woods or climbing to mountaintops holds a special place in my heart, taking a stroll through my neighborhood is still cathartic, as well.  

While walking is delightful no matter my mood, it’s my go-to whenever I’m feeling sad, overwhelmed, angry, or anxious. When my mind moves too quickly and I begin to spiral, walking helps me feel like I’m catching up with it a bit and like I have a sense of control. 

As I walk, whether it’s on a deserted trail or in my neighborhood, I make sure to pay attention to my surroundings. I take in the houses I pass, the birds singing and fluttering by, the sunshine on my limbs, the feel of the breeze. I’m conscious of my feet hitting the ground with each step I take. Doing so helps me remain present and temporarily distracts me from my spiraling mind.

Walking also helps mental health by improving sleep quality, boosting energy levels, clearing brain fog, and easing stress. 

Christine Bushrow is a passionate freelance mental health writer and mental health advocate. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, spending time with loved ones, practicing yoga, and exploring the outdoors in a constant state of wonder.