Throughout my recovery journey, walking has been an activity that has allowed me to reconnect with my body and process my thoughts as I heal. Taking one step after another at a steady, consistent pace allows me to shift my focus towards how I am feeling in the moment and begin to take the practical steps to map out my next move. Here I offer some ideas about how to incorporate walking into your recovery, taking time to learn more about yourself, connect with the world around you and find mental clarity amongst the uncertainty.
- Experience nature
There’s something about truly soaking in the presence of nature that can be so uplifting. Not only is breathing fresh air in and out so good for the body, but it also enables all the knots of anxiety to progressively uncoil. When I talk about walking in nature, I mean truly allowing yourself to take in all the natural sights and smells and senses all around you. As you walk through the trees, can you hear the faint rumbling and rustling of the falling leaves? When you walk on an open field, can you feel the wind brushing against your skin and roaring past your ears? Really take the chance to step into the present moment and appreciate where you are right now.
- Allow yourself to drift
When you set off on your walk, sketch out a route in your mind if you need to, but also aim to allow for unpredictability. If you come across a twist or turn that intrigues you, don’t be afraid to branch out and explore. Respond if you feel intrigued about where it may lead. Be relaxed and playful about the experience, not sticking to a set circuit to accomplish in a set timeframe, but mixing it up every time you go. Sometimes make it short and sweet, generating a burst of energy to feel refreshed on return. Other times, make the journey slow and reflective, allowing your mind to wander, dream and be inspired by what you come across. Giving yourself permission to be flexible in an activity as simple as walking will plant seeds of fluidity in other aspects in your life too, refining a key quality that will serve you abundantly in recovery.
- Be thankful
The ability to walk is such a simple, humble miracle that we can often take for granted. We use our legs to get us from place to place without fully considering what a gift they are to us. No matter what shape or size they may be, our legs have carried us along thousands and thousands of journeys throughout our lives. They’ve led us to places where special memories have been created with those we love. They’ve allowed us to dance to the beat of our favourite songs. And they’ve always brought us home, even after a long, tiring day. Take a moment today to be thankful for your legs and the journeys they have taken you on. And don’t stop there, think about all the other amazing ways your body has served you too. Thank your smile, allowing you to connect with a friend, or a neighbour, or acknowledge the adorable puppy across the street. Thank your hands for allowing you to create and work. Thank your arms that allow you to carry, to serve, to love.
Take a walk for the sole purpose of celebrating how beautiful and wonderful and remarkable you are in the here and now. Experience the world around you, allow yourself to flow as you go, and be thankful for the gift of a body that takes you along each new step moving forward.
Written by Maddy Jewell (@gracefuelled),
Maddy Jewell is a Cardiff University student working towards a degree in Human Geography and Planning. Her recovery journey over the last two years and her heart for people have inspired her to use her writing to reach out to other girls who are facing similar battles. She loves sewing, dancing and days at the beach, and dreams of one day shaping cities that are both liveable and sustainable for future generations.
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