dedicating this to Nessie & Tab since I miss them both terribly, despite my unrelenting protests when actually forced to walk them. Plus, a flood of dog pictures can only be a good thing for readership numbers
I occasionally get asked why I don’t blog regularly more, and to be honest, I tend to often forget that my little star-studded space still exists. I’m also never lacking (admittedly pathetic) excuses as to why I end up going months without posting anything – mainly related to a constant blanket of writer’s block which I hope will one day lift itself.
After speaking a little more openly about my experiences with mental health on Instagram, I’ve had a fair few requests to write more on the topic, plus a bunch of requests for more info on how I train, so I’m going to do my best to oblige (although despite all the inquiries, I actually don’t have any personal training qualifications, and have not yet stooped to shilling £10 booty building programs and touting Herbalife. We’ll see how my morals survive if uni gets anymore difficult).
It does make me inanely uncomfortable at times. After trading handles with someone on a night out, I was drunkenly faced with a bunch of boys commenting on my before/after picture, saying how awful I looked before, if I still considered that attractive. It isn’t exactly the drunk scenario I hope to end up in, and part of me worries terribly about how people might come to prejudge my current state by my past. To an extent I pay a price for the exposure, but one that I’m also happy to carry.
I’ve been asked a lot for my tips and tricks in battling mental health issues. As anyone will tell you, it’s not a clear path. It’s probably the most clouded and obscure path there is. Think thick moor fog, Woman in Black style, and no headlights. Nonetheless, there are a selection of habits that helped me, amongst which I would put purposeless walking – something that becomes more and more of a rarity and a luxury in today’s culture.
I’m definitely a little bit lazy nowadays. Whenever my family bring up the annual Christmas stroll, I do construct a good counter-argument (why the hell does anyone who doesn’t own a dog go for walks? I could totally justify it when we had an army of terriers, and several pony-sized labradoodles cowering behind said terriers, but without a dog to be walked, I’m always in firm support for Christmas naps and whatever sad vegetarian Christmas food ends up being provided). That being said, I spent a lot of time walking alone, when I was in one of my less positive stages of life.
Before I continue, I have to make it clear that no music was involved – god forbid. How does one walk, in the twenty-first century, without Spotify blaring down your eardrums, I can practically hear you objecting already. I would absolutely agree. I can now hardly walk the two minutes down the road to pickup snacks at Sainsbury’s without my headphones on. That being said, I think that constantly listening to music on the go sort of cancels out a lot of deep thoughts.
Slow, purposeless walking, often in a scenic setting, has been linked to a therapeutic state of deep thought (not even a Buzzfeed source, I swear). Dickens wandered endlessly at night, brooding up many of his infamous novels, as did Wordsworth, the renowned poet who I am sure many of you were blessed (literally blessed, for the focus on religious topics) in A Level studies. Forrest Gump covers nearly a continent and grows an impressive amount of facial hair, demonstrating quite aptly the many, many benefits of extended walks.
I’m not shooting down music. I love the Spotify discover weekly (my mind was to a degree blown by the news that Spotify weekly was not the same for every user, and tailored individually. Who knew) and do get a little excited when it updates every Monday morning. I also love podcasts. I do however think that constantly listening to something does remove an element of the scope for deep thought that we get in silence. Starting to think about – during the day – the things that more often than not kept me up at night, started to give my mind a chance to reflect, and come to terms, with certain memories and thoughts.
This really isn’t a quick process. In my previous home, based in the middle of nowhere, deep in Devon countryside, there was the perfect 5km trail setting off from the drive way. I walked this consistently once (sometimes twice) a day for 6 months, and at least twice a week for 6 years. I could probably walk it blindfolded and not end up in any potholes, even now. I’ve dragged a load of my friends around this track too, come rain and shine. I’ve walked in wellies in Winter, and even once (very, very bad decision) barefoot in Summer. I’ve tried running, decided I’m very much not a runner, and returned to aimless wandering. You get to enjoy nature, and watch the seasons change (a rarity and something that I now miss, living in a city), as well as giving your thoughts free rein for a little while.
Like I said earlier, it’s not a quick fix. It takes more than one hike to start working on deeper issues, but I’m a big fan of walking; (as much as I might sometimes come across as a very cardio-adverse sloth). You don’t even need any deep-rooted mental issues to tackle to get into it, or to reap the benefits, and I’ve only grown to love it more, the more I travel.
You don’t even really need a dog (although these are a massive, four legged blessing).