This post was originally shared as a guest post on the Depression Getaway blog. It seemed appropriate to share while I am on my own getaway. 🙂
I love the idea of a depression getaway–something that allows you to take a brief break from the weight and pressure depression can bring into your life. As you know, I often suggest coping tools, and so choosing just one to earn the “favorite depression getaway” label was a tough challenge. But when I reflected on this post, one idea kept coming up. So here it is . . . drum roll please . . . my free favorite depression getaway is:
Yes. You read that right. My favorite weapon against negative thoughts and persistent sadness is a brisk walk. I believe so much in the power of walking that I keep an extra pair of tennis shoes in my office. That way, I can turn a 30 minute break into a quick mood lifter.
Walking tops my list of free depression getaways for a bunch of reasons. Here are just a few:
- When I am walking, I can let go of everything else
- Or, I can use the time to write a post in my head, review my schedule, and mentally get organized
- Even a ten minute walk clears the fog from my brain
- Muscles were built to move–letting them do their job feels good
- Reconnecting with nature is incredibly powerful for me. I am a ten-minute walk from a park, where I can soak up the shade or watch the birds
- Walking reminds me that I am part of a bigger world. I see people out with their dogs, get to check out funky architecture, watch kids play
- Current research supports a connection between exercise and decreased depression. In some cases, exercise can be as effective as an antidepressant
I once heard someone say, “I can’t maintain a bad mood through a 20 minute walk.” I don’t know if that is true for everyone, but I know it is true for me. No matter how out of sorts, frazzled, worried, or sad I feel when I start walking, by the end of the walk, everything feels just a tiny bit better.
This might sound like it’s too good to be true. Or maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “But I hate to walk.” Either way, I am inviting you to take the 20 minute walk challenge. Once in the next week, when you are feeling low, put on your shoes, get out the door and take a 20 minute walk. Rate your depression before you go out the door and again when you get home. If 20 minutes feels too overwhelming, do ten. The actual amount of time doesn’t matter, just head out and walk. By choosing to go out the door, you’ve made a commitment to yourself, which is also a way to push back the depression.
I blog weekly about tools and strategies for coping with life, illness, relationships and more. Please feel free to visit me at http://www.drannbeckerschutte.com/blog. I’d love to hear from you about how your “walk challenge” goes.
Image Credit: Photo “Walking the Dog” by h.koppdelaney via Flickr under Creative Commons license