Let's take a walk
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
A panacea for our ailments doesn't exist, but luckily, there are things that partially do the term justice. Meditation, something I have an on-and-off again love affair, certainly is one of those clinically-proven marvels that improves our quality of life. That may or may not be a difficult option for many of us who have a hard time approaching meditation. Fortunately, another scientifically proven option exists: Getting outside. Pain management, mental health, eating habits, sleep, libido, the list goes on; all of these are negatively impacted when we're inside too long. Now, of course, this isn't quite as easy during the pandemic, but socially-distanced-well-ventilated areas abound even in the most crowded metropolises...es.
Are you finding it hard to muster the will power to get outside? There are a few little tricks that have helped me personally. One is just to get ready in the morning. Even if you aren't planning on going anywhere or seeing anybody; just having your teeth brushed and hair done somehow makes the mental effort of going out that much easier. Another helpful hack is getting out sooner rather than later. I find my emotional/mental state starts to sink if I haven't been outside by the afternoon, and many people I've spoken to share that experience. One last tip is to set a small goal and try to make a habit of it: maybe just go on a walk around the block by noon, maybe just spend five minutes in the backyard tidying up. This rhythm is easier to attain and maintain than doing big outings, and the benefits are still there!
Recently, I had been feeling some mental and emotional slumping, so I put my own advice into practice and headed out into the woods yesterday. I can tell it helped because, for one, I'm writing a blog post about it!
Starting the journey wasn't easy. I had been having trouble sleeping the past few days and this particular morning I woke up way too early and couldn't fall back asleep. I was groggy and a bit grumpy (my girlfriend can attest to the latter) and no one could come with me. Something in my psyche said "just GO", so I threw some snacks into my backpack and ran outside. I googled something general like "nice hikes near me" and followed its transportation instructions. 75 minutes later, I got off the bus in Hepsisau, a quaint German town nestled into the foothills of the Swabian Alps. I looked around and saw an outlook up on a hill and decided to walk towards it. See if you can spot it in the image below.
This was an exceptionally beautiful day. The weather was 9/10, and since I was alone, I felt no qualms about having no plan or mapped route. I meandered in the general direction of "up" and eventually found my way to the outlook. I actually don't know why I did this: I have a consciousness-sapping fear of heights, and the second I stepped out onto the stony outcrop my legs started to buckle. I tried to breathe through it and blindly fired a few shots with my camera before the urge to simultaneously vomit and pass out forced me back to safer ground. I wobbled to a nearby bench to recompose myself, hoping no one saw my pallid, terror-stricken features.
The rest of the hike was decidedly easier on my nervous system. After a few beautiful, autumnal miles, I wound my way to a little town with a regional train that would take me back home to Stuttgart. I can say with certainty that, even though I was a bit tired and dehydrated, I felt reinvigorated. This feeling has even lasted through the day after: a cold, gray, rainy 26th of October.
I hope even in thick of the gloomy German winter, I will kick my butt out of the apartment on one of these hikes. As the saying (roughly) goes: "There's no such thing as bad weather, just incorrect clothing." I'm sure I'll find a multitude of excuses not to get out, but when that time comes, hopefully, I'll reread this blog post, cringe a little at some grammatical mistakes, and with any luck, just get outside.