I’ve starting going for walks. This will shock anyone who knows me. As a busy, indoors-y kind of gal, walking always felt so boring. But that’s only because my world was too small. These days, walking opens me up. I’m part of a bigger landscape, a bigger story, a bigger sky.
Of course, once a city kid, always a city kid. Growing up in Manhattan’s Chinatown, home was a 23rd floor high-rise apartment. My idea of walking? Shopping cute stores and eating out. Walking had to be convenient with exciting visuals.
When I explained my priorities to a walking-fanatic friend, she invited me on a stroll. We went to her favorite place. She said I would really, really like it. She was right: Tibbetts Brook Park is in Yonkers, N.Y. At last, the outdoors on terms that meet my comfort zone.
It’s only a 10-minute drive from my house to this lush, 161-acre oasis. Most importantly, I love the tidy joy of wandering well-maintained paths. They’re black-topped, just like in Central Park, where I spent my youth. No muddy shoes for me!
The setting feels like a big hug to my Inner Nature Girl. I’m even trying solitary walks, which feel far from lonely. With trees, the breeze and birds galore, I’m in great company. And wow, the benefits of walking go on and on.
Walking outdoors makes me happy. When sun hits our skin, our bodies naturally make Vitamin D. Sadly most of us suffer from D-deficiency; we’re indoors too much. Research shows that people with mental issues and depression are low in Vitamin D. Lack of D also leads to frail bones.
Walking in nature is a meditation. Escaping to the woods frees me from worry. Even the simple-but-difficult act of getting to the park is huge. Getting there forces me to break routine and get perspective. Right now, falling leaves remind me that dying is beautiful — a reminder to let go.
Walking offers a creative boost. Wandering is incredibly therapeutic. It takes my goal-focused head and throws me into landscape mode. The overthinking settles down. I soften enough to absorb the colors, shapes and textures around me. Random emotions surface. I like it.
With Thanksgiving done, we’re sliding into full-blast holiday madness. This is when I usually freak out over social pressure to make merry and make money. I want 2016 to be different. Maybe walking can save me.
Hmm, I’m wondering how walkers carry on in rain, cold and snow. Might have to walk myself into a store like REI for some retail therapy. Any excuse to buy new shoes or clothes, haha.
Do you walk or have relaxation solutions to share? Would love to hear your reflections, advice or tips. xo