my space tracker

Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Walk

Sunday, November 30, 2008


It's not new. Though I think it's really worth a mention. Whenever I write about depression, or grief, or anger or pain of any kind, I always have in mind how hard it sometimes is to push ourselves over the hill to do whatever may help us to feel better. Even when we are fairly certain it will help.

Of course the medical evidence and studies abound about the benefits of exercise. The mind, the body, the soul, all are recipients of movement. But walking I find is in a category all it's own. Deep strides, or a meandering stroll, fresh air on your face, in your lungs. Your eyes to the sky. You can clear your head. For those of you that are already sold, you know what I am talking about. But for those of you who think about walking and just have not gotten out the door yet, or for those of you who have not tried it, or who put it in the category of "have to exercise" or tedious chore of the day, I am suggesting you give it a chance.

There are of course all the facts about how it lifts vital hormone levels in your brain, and how it gets your blood going, carrying better mood lifting chemicals throughout your system. Maybe that's the science of it. I suppose I am not really so interested in that part, though I am a believer. The part that I find worth writing about is the relief part. The part where you can actually walk off pain, frustration, anger, fear. Okay, it does not disappear, but I can almost guarantee you that if you get yourself to go out and stride, you will, after a time, feel better.

It's like shaking off dust that you did not know was there. Certainly, for pent up hostility and anger, it's great. But I am thinking more along the lines of thinking. Of having a rolling space to let your thoughts tumble, to let you head clear. To think. Or to just stare at the sky and remember that there are things bigger and more vast then what you can see. Explanations that go beyond. And calm that can come forth.

The trick is getting yourself out the door. And for this I say can only say what everyone else says. You just have to do it. Do it and you will see. You will see that it's one easy, free, access able tool for soothing your tired weary heart.

Walk. Breath. Rest. Think if you want to, but get outside and go. No offense to the treadmill or elliptical. But there is no substitute for space. If you can get to a park, great. If not, any sidewalk will do.

Forrest Gump fans may recall that he had to run the whole country (sometimes, you gotta run too). Sometimes I hear about pain so great that it seems like it would take all 3000 miles to walk off the hurt. Betrayal is up there with the worst feelings. Forrest had to cover a lot of ground. But we don't have to do all 3000 miles in one shot. We may get relief in bits and pieces.

And I find that giving yourself permission to wander is a way of finding yourself amidst all the confusion.

You will most likely come back a little lighter, a little safer and a little more contained, which I think is a good thing. I think we all need a little wind in our hair, and, on lucky days, sun on our face. These are the good and simple things in life that can hold us until things get better. And carry us along right in the moment, when things seems upside down, but may actually be okay in some meant to be, but not yet known kind of way.

Walk on!


Therapy said...

totally agree with u. Personally I need to be alone in the open maybe on a jog or just a walk to unwind. Doing my own thing without hearing someone talk to me all the time.

Melissa Groman, LCSW said...


Amen to open space and quiet time!