This week I woke up at 4:45 in the morning most days. I had to be at work by 6 am and didn’t want to miss my morning walk.
The first morning of 2021 I woke up in the mountains, drove to a trailhead, began hiking by 4 am, and watched the sunrise from the summit of one of the Adirondack High Peaks. I’ve never considered myself a morning person, yet here we are.
It started as a challenge to hit 10,000 steps a day for as long as possible. So far, every day of 2021 that goal has been reached, with no signs of stopping. It’s been cold, raining, snowing, and downright miserable. I’ve been busy, I’ve had headaches, and pains, and twisted ankles, but kept going. Because the benefits of getting up, and going for even a short walk, far outweighs the downside of being a little more tired, or not getting quite as much work done.
We live in a world that is constantly go go go, and I am very much a go go go person. “Relaxing” stresses me out. “Doing nothing” stresses me out, and “taking a break,” causes anxiety. Walking has become my relaxation, an active “nothing.” I’ve even gotten into the habit of turning on do not disturb on lunch break walks so I’m actually taking a break.
Morning walks are for energy, and to listen to the news (usually via NPR’s Up First). Some days it’s harder to get out of bed, and those days the walks are much shorter, but I’ve only missed a morning walk twice.
Afternoon walks are for a break. From the screen, from the emails, from the nonsense. If I’m actually in the office, I’ll try and grab some co-workers to join.
Evening walks are for reflection and for thought. Some days there are lots of thoughts, other days the focus is on whatever is playing in my headphones. On work from home days, the evening walk serves as a physical separation of work and home. A necessity since the “home office” is two feet from my bed. Some days the evening walk is a hybrid run/walk as I try to convince myself I’m going to be a runner. Evening walks can be productive. Part of this article was written while walking.
There are also rage walks after a “WTF” kind of day. Sometimes I really don’t want to go for a walk. But I always, always, feel better.
It’s no secret that almost everyone is burned out, from everything. It’s no secret that “work from home” has made breaks and time off harder to actually accomplish. It’s no secret that we all need an outlet. Walking is mine. On the weekends (and sometimes in the evenings, especially as we have more daylight) hiking takes over and the sights and sounds of my street are replaced with trees and animal sounds.
I have always been a fan of walking, but 2021 has made it a daily part of my life. My mental and physical health has improved, and I’m certain my burnout would be a whole lot worse if I didn’t walk daily.
In the wise words of Captain America, “you get killed, walk it off.” So here I am while I haven’t been killed, I’m still walking it off.