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Monday, October 22, 2012

Walk your way to happiness

What do you do when you feel overstressed, frustrated and bored at the same time?

What do you do when you just came back from the trip of a lifetime and find it harder than expected to get back to your routine?

What do you do when you know there's nothing particularly wrong, unpleasant or problematic in your life... and you know it's rather just a few minor annoyances and some level of dissatisfaction? Plus the feeling that you're kind of stuck in a rut

What if you feel something needs to change? 

What if the something that needs to change is inside of you more than outside?

How do you get out of that yucky spot?

Once again I was experiencing the "Sh*** summer really is over now" syndrome.

I considered running more, but I already run four times a week, and I am prone to injuries. Overdoing it is not a good idea. Plus it's time-consuming: you have to change, you have to shower. I don't have that much time, and I already shower enough as it is with all the workouts! 

I considered meditating, but to be honest I didn't feel like it. I felt I had to find more serenity within myself before I could actually sit still, eyes closed, for 20 minutes in a row. Or else I would just be way too restless.

Everything else I considered was quickly dismissed as not an option: taking to the bottle, moving to a different country, shaving my head... it sounded kinda fun, but nah.

Spending my days wearing fleece PJ's, wrapped in a soft blanket in front of the fire, sipping on chai tea... that sounded a little bit better... but I would quickly get complaints, I'm afraid. "Where's the document you were supposed to translate?" "Where's my lunchbox?" "Where's my clean socks?" And more importantly: "Meooooowwwwww?" (which can loosely translate as "Get off your bu** and fill my bowl/open the door for me/scratch me behind the ears)

So instead of those appealing ideas, I ended up cleaning my kitchen cupboards. It did me good, it did my kitchen good, and it will do good whoever ends up with my supernumerary bowls, pots and pans.

The snag, however, is that I cannot possibly make this a habit: my kitchen would soon be completely empty.

I needed something that I could repeat over and over again. Something that would enable me to evacuate the stress without creating more in the process, that would demand almost no effort, that would be good for me physically as much as mentally, and that was time and cost effective.

While I was trying to put all those conditions together to get a bigger picture of the ideal solution, my father-in-law called, and while we were chatting of different things he mentioned how much he enjoys his daily walk.

Walking! I thought. That's my solution! Walking is easy: it's controlled by the cerebellum and so is pretty much an automatic movement. No need to pay attention to your gait (and breathing). Your body just does it on its own. Walking is slow: you have time to notice your surroundings, you have time to notice your thoughts. Walking is repetitive: it puts you in a state that facilitates relaxation and contemplation. Walking is simple: your regular clothes and any street/road/trail will do. You don't even need to bring water (not in Canada, in October, anyways).

Plus, walking burns calories!

So this morning I went. I walked. After 20 minutes or so I stopped by my favorite pond to have a little chat with the ducks and listen to the wind blowing in what's left of leaves in the trees. 

As I was walking back something magical happened. All of a sudden my problems appeared much smaller. I have been struggling with a certain relationship, unhappy about the way the person behaves towards me and unsure of how to react. After walking this morning, my mind seemed clearer and more serene. I didn't feel upset about this relationship anymore. I felt plentiful and detached.

And when I sat at my computer to work, I was calm and focused.

I think I'll be walking again tomorrow! Will you?

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