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I stopped suffering by reconnecting with the outside world

I can say so many positive things about walking, but more than anything I have noticed that it helps me to connect with myself, other people, and nature.

Watching sunrise before going to work - London, November 2016

When I was questioning my choices about living and working in London, I couldn’t see a straightforward solution to getting out of it quickly. At the surface I had financial responsibilities, and beneath that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do instead. Every option that I started to look into either threw up barriers, or led to the same situation I was already in.

I felt trapped by the situation I had created, and suffocated by the job that I was in. Every time that I tried to progress in my career, I felt pushed back by the people above me. I got to a point where I struggled to hide my frustration and discontent, and I felt I had to do something about it. But when I found the courage to speak up, I was met with resistance and told to keep quiet.

While I fantasised about walking out of my job, the only thing that helped me through this was to create new experiences around my work life. I started choosing city walks on my weekends instead of moping in front of the TV, which eventually led to nature walks and joining outdoor meetups. On Friday nights I would prepare for weekend trips instead of going to the pub to moan about my job with colleagues. Through these experiences I learned about the history of London boroughs, met new people, and reconnected with my true self that had been hiding away.

It was remarkable how quickly I felt the positive impact of making these simple changes. I began to detach from the suffering I'd been feeling in my job, focusing my energy towards curiosity, connection, and creativity instead. It felt like coming back to life.

I couldn’t wait for the weekends to come, so I started to get creative with my other free time around my job. Some days I went to watch the sunrise from a hill before work, I regularly went out for an hour at lunch to take a trip on the tube to a London park for a walk or to the local city farm, and after work I walked different routes home or attended events with outdoorsy people.

I was living in the same flat, going to the same office, but I was experiencing life differently. I didn’t feel powerless anymore, and with new confidence and joy in my mind and body, I didn’t need to just recklessly quit. I could take my time to think about my next steps and try new things before making any big decisions.

I stopped suffering by reconnecting with the outside world. My first step was a local walk in Deptford one weekend, and that has led on to so many great experiences. All I did was decide to switch off the TV, looked up a local walk from my door, and stepped outside.

I know it seems too simple to say that going for a walk changed my life, but it did change my perspective. I got myself out of the hole that I was sinking into by stepping out of it. Then I just kept going for more walks because it gave me space between being at work and being at home, and it gave me energy.

I can say so many positive things about walking, but more than anything I have noticed that it helps me to connect with myself, other people, and nature. It doesn’t resolve everything, but it helps to widen my perspective, clear thoughts and emotions, and brings me great joy.

Thinking about watching the sunrise from a small hill in London brings the same smile to my face as thinking about it here in the Peak District. Every day is new, every day can be different. The unique experience of witnessing sunrise is a beautiful reminder of that.


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