Walking to Stay Sane

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I’ve been struggling with writing this post, because plainly put, most things are more of a struggle than usual right now. That’s why, during these crazy times, I recommend walking to stay sane.

Nothing like this has happened before in my lifetime. This is a global pandemic. The world has been upended. Let’s allow that to settle for a second. The global reach of this still hasn’t really sunk in. Because I think it’s important to remember that this craziness is felt all around the world, and that we’re all in need of a little more sanity than usual.

I’ve always advocated the healthy body, healthy mind mentality. I’ve struggled for many years with my health, mental and physical. It’s still a struggle, every single day. But I can acknowledge that struggle. I have to. That’s the only way I can beat it.

Rather than taking up a new virtual exercise class or trying to be too adventurous with my workouts or trying out a crazy new diet, I’ve been clinging on to one of my favorite head-clearing activities: walking.

Walking (at a social distance of at least 6 feet) is easy enough around my neighborhood. There are lots of leafy streets, beautiful houses and parks, many of which are still open to the public. There’s enough space for me to walk around dog-walkers and kids on bikes, if I see them. The people of Montclair are generally kind and considerate, smiling as they pass and giving each other breathing (literal, breathing) room. My town is close enough to New York to feel hip, far enough away to feel suburban. Montclair is the first major elevation in New Jersey if you travel west out of the city. The views across to the city from Eagle Rock Reservation – a fun hiking spot – are spectacular. I look across at the city skyline and really feel for my friends who are cooped up in NYC right now – a city notoriously difficult to find space and avoid human contact. I’m so grateful for living room.

Eagle Rock Reservation

Some days I walk outside with my husband. We’re both fast walkers with long legs, which helps us cover a lot of ground. We’re discovering new streets and new areas. Some days I walk alone and listen to a podcast. It’s a great opportunity to reset and refresh, while catching up on a few of my favorite shows. I can focus without distraction. And when the weather is bad? I play a podcast aloud and run on the spot indoors or up and down the stairs. I might look crazy to my husband and cat, but I feel sane. P.S. The cat enjoys attacking me whenever I do this. Outside is easier.

My goal? The recommended 10k steps a day. Last week I managed this four times. Saturday, a particularly low day, I did not. Nowhere close. But that’s OK, too. This week, I want to try for 10K steps every day. I’m joining FitBit walking challenges to hold me accountable. I get up several times a day to boil the kettle for tea. I’m drinking a lot of tea, even for a Brit. I try to move as much as possible, to keep a healthy distance away from the screen. When I have work calls and I’m able to mute and listen in, I run on the spot. Anything to keep going. Anything to stay sane.

When the weather improves, we’re going to reignite our mission to Day Hike the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey, providing the forests stay open. We set a healthy 15 mile per day target; can’t wait to achieve that. I never thought I’d turn into a hiker when I moved to America.

I strongly recommend walking to stay sane – or whatever works for you, wherever you are in the world.

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