Take a Stupid Walk for Your Stupid Mental Health

 

– Carolyn Moriarty, LCPC

 

The title of this blog will not make sense to everyone, so let me explain. The phrase “going on a stupid walk for my stupid mental health” went viral a few years ago thanks to this TikTok video made by creator @ninalaevski. The video in question shows a girl bundling up, charging out the door and powerwalking down a snowy street. Thousands of people related to this concept of forcing oneself to do annoying things (taking a walk even though it’s cold outside) because you know “it’s good for you”

The message is conveyed in an exaggerated, tongue-in-cheek manner (a necessity when making a TikTok video). However, the sentiment is genuine. There are things you should be doing for your mental health. Three years out from the start of the pandemic, with life slowly creeping back to normal, many people may feel like they should have snapped of their funk by now and still can’t seem to shake it off.   It’s important to remember that you may still be dealing with a buildup of physical, mental and emotional fatigue, the effects of which are very real. This burnout can seriously impair your concentration, energy, confidence, decision-making—just about everything that makes you feel like “you”.

The good news is that getting unstuck does not need to feel “stupid” or gratuitous. Everybody gets into a funk now and then. It is important not to criticize yourself for feeling down; sometimes it is just your body’s way of signaling that it needs something new.

Below are things you can do for your mental health, broken up into the categories of physical and emotional:

 

Physical

  • Move: Committing to taking a (stupid) walk for 10 minutes outside each morning can get you into the habit of physical activity giving you that “I did something productive” boost.
  • Hydrate: This one is simple, but important. It is common to neglect basic self-care when feeling burnt-out, depressed or exhausted. Inadequate water intake can exacerbate these symptoms and cause increased feelings of being unwell. Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning will prevent dehydration and make it more likely that will continue making healthier choices.
  • Eat: You might think nothing of skipping breakfast and lunch. But would you send a child to school on an empty stomach with nothing in their lunchbox and told them “Well, have fun! You’re going to do great today!” No, you wouldn’t, because that is insane. No child is going to “do great” and “have fun” when they are hungry. Believe it or not, the same goes for you too.
  • Sunbathe: Similar to food and water, your body needs vitamin D for energy. Increased amount of time indoors and inadequate diet can cause deficiencies in this nutrient. Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are headache, fatigue, depression and sore joints and muscles.

 

Emotional

  • Validate: rather than resist anxiety, intentionally confront and acknowledge the worry “it is possible that I could lose my job. Anything could happen. I can’t predict the future”. Acknowledging your thoughts will not change reality for the worse or better, but it will free up mental energy that you can now spend on something more productive.
  • Set boundaries by saying “no” to obligations that will create excess stress
  • Practice self-compassion: “Self-compassion is hard for me” is something I hear from almost all my clients. One of my favorite ways to demonstrate how to be self-compassionate is to have them visualize themselves as a child (or have them visualize their own children). What would you tell this child if they came to you and said “I feel like a bad person right now?” One hundred percent of the time, the client will immediately come up with a tender, eloquent and compassionate response.

 

 

 

Taking a “white knuckle” approach to struggle only leads to more struggle. As  you can see, sometimes the easiest way to treat yourself is to nurture your inner child. Feed yourself, give yourself water, let yourself rest and make time for outdoor time and movement. It wasn’t stupid when you were a child and it doesn’t have to be stupid now.

 

Seeking Mental Health Support

Remember that these are only temporary solutions to reduce in-the-moment panic and anxiety. If you are struggling with chronic anxiety or excessive worry, consider scheduling an appointment with Chicago Counseling Center. Meet our team to learn more!

 

 

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