As I learn to manage my periods of anxiety, I’ve worked with many different tools, self-care techniques, supplements and so on. One thing that has really stuck for me is taking walks.
When I’m having a panic attack, it helps me shift my brain from the internal to the external. And from the mind to the body. Walking helps me “burn off” the adrenalin and stress hormones dumped by my brain. I will admit, this is the hardest time to make myself do something (anything). But it’s worth it if I can get myself out the door.
When my anxiety level is generally elevated, walking gives me something else to focus on and helps while shedding those physical sensations of brought about by the cascade of stress hormones. Walking while anxious can help me avoid panic attacks.
When I’m doing ok, it’s simple self-care. I truly enjoy walking, especially if I have the opportunity to explore or if I have the chance to be in the rain.
I made a pact with myself that I would take a break to go for a walk every night I work. Sometimes the patient load makes it hard to manage, but I do it every shift I can. Initially, I walked inside the hospital. I would go from one end of the hospital to the other, into the next building and even yet another building (which are all connected by indoor walk-ways) and back. It was nice. I’d only pass a handful of people and the occasional security guard. I was mostly on my own, which I prefer. I can just be in silence listening to my foot steps or I can wear my bluetooth headphones to listen to music or a podcast. I’d see areas of the hospital complex I wasn’t familiar with, stretch my legs, get some steps in. It was nice and it was helpful.
Then one night I decided to see if my badge access allowed me to come in and leave the exterior doors. It did. I found myself outside walking through the courtyards between buildings and down walk-ways with peaceful waterfalls intended for patients and their families.
After dark the doors are locked to funnel all visitors to the primary entrances for security reasons. I had assumed that you needed a security badge to use the side doors. I was wrong!
Walking outside in nature is good for my mind and good for my soul. For me, walking (or exercising in any form) after dark is both soothing and invigorating (in a good way.) It feels freeing to me. It brings a smile to my face.
Now, when I’m working, I take a walk sometime between 1 and 3 am. I walk some of the halls, but then I make it to the courtyard doors and I walk outside. I breath in the night air and appreciate the quiet. I rarely see anyone on these late night walks, which I love. I come back feeling revived and centered… and less anxious. I took these photos on my last late night walk, in the drizzling, warm rain and thought I would share.
This has become my happy space while at work. Outside, under the stars, feeling the breeze… Finding your happy space is a beautiful thing.