The easy, day-to-day activity that transformed my mental health for the better.
Last semester, I learned first-hand how far stress could implement itself into your life and affect day-to-day activities. So far my junior year, there’s been a plethora of assignments, exams, and responsibilities that are causing anxiety spikes. Up until last semester, I never had the feeling of walls closing in on me feeling so strong, and I had been painfully dragging through my days.
I counted the minutes until I could be back in bed, in my safe space, without looming expectations. Once it was time to lie down and sleep, I found myself wide awake. Staring at the ceiling for hours, still anxious, still stressed. This was a repetitive cycle that became exhausting, it took a huge toll on my mental health and all aspects of my life were affected.
Anxiety has been a struggle that I have carried with me for years. I anxiously paced in the locker room before soccer games in middle school, terrified I was going to let down my teammates or coaches. In high school, I repeatedly picked and bit my nails while listening to my teacher discuss the college application process.
After my non-sleeping cycle stuck for a few weeks, I decided it wasn’t just a quick slump. I realized that I needed to find the root of this problem, and more importantly, get back to my old self again.
I understand that social media has the ability to be draining
, and bad for our overall mental health, but a small part of me holds out hope that it can be beneficial to our minds.
One of these outlets that I have discovered, and that has changed my life significantly, is podcasts. When I first discovered them, everyone on TikTok began the “hot girl walking” trend.
This whole era grabbed my attention
, as people were claiming a simple, daily, hour-long walk transformed their lives. I was skeptical of course, how could going on a walk take my anxiety away? Yet at this moment in my life, I was willing to try anything. So, I laced up my sneakers, connected my headphones, and stepped outside.
Although I was skeptical, I remember the first night post-hot girl walk clearly.I had spent an hour walking around my school’s campus and enjoyed every second. The relaxation I felt from taking a second to step outside into nature altered my perspective all at once.
So much of a college student’s time on campus is spent in a frantic rush, but I was able to notice the beauty of my campus without any distractions like upcoming assignments clouding my head. I noticed how many birds there were on campus, the way the trees lined the roads, and the afternoon sun beaming down on me.
I’ve also been listening to a podcast about mental health and anxiety called “The Anxiety Chicks”. Without an agenda to distract me, I was able to fully grasp what was being discussed, and overall obtain more knowledge on the subject matter.
I’m not going to lie and say the overall, drastic change was immediate. There were still nights I struggled to fall asleep. However, I came to recognize that if I was consistent with the hot girl walk habit, it shaped its way into my daily routine. After a few weeks, I noticed a positive shift in my overall mood and well-being. I was sleeping better and falling asleep easier than ever. I was no longer waking up with anxiety and my heart rate no longer spiked out of nowhere.
These walks have truly become one of my favorite parts of my day. It’s something I look forward to and it motivates me to get through the day, turn in assignments on time, and focus during classes. Most weekdays, my transition from school to relaxation is these walks, and, in my opinion, the best way to create balance between the two vastly different mindsets. It’s a way to release all the anxious, pent-up energy that has built up in my body throughout my academic calendar that day and settle in for the night.
I still have anxiety, because it isn’t something that just goes away overnight. However, the drastic changes from this time last year to the current day are apparent in everything I do. I owe a vast amount of that progress to taking time for myself to get outside, and do something mindful, such as a “hot girl walk”.