Over the past few blogs, I have mentioned how inconsistent I am and how I tend to get bored with my activities within a short period of time. One thing I am consistent about are my morning walks. I have always loved to walk, and for many years now, my morning walks have been my only steady form of exercise. A few years ago, when I wasn’t so consistent with my walks, I started noticing how I would be moody on certain days and super energetic on others. At first, I could not figure out the reason but after observing myself for a few months, I realized that my moodiness came on whenever I skipped my walks for a few consecutive days. Once I went back to my walks, my mood would automatically become better and I would be overall energetic. I wanted to learn more about this and my readings taught me about certain hormones called dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. I call them my happy hormones, because when their levels are high, I feel high too, in a good way :-). Have any of you felt this way? Take a peek at my other favorite stress busters.
When the pandemic set in earlier this year, my walking routine was erratic, partially owing to my work hours; I was walking only on the days when I wasn’t working. When the schools closed down, my work stopped and I was at home all the time. That’s when Ms. G proposed walking together in the morning (keep in mind that she lives about 400 miles away) and our walking together constitutes phone calls: our way of keeping each other company while being out early in the morning. I wasn’t too keen on the time she proposed, but 5.45-6.00 had to be our starting time for her to get back home to her kids and her household routine.
Though we have been doing this for a few months now, I still crib (every chance I get) about having to wake up that early. Weekends are even worse and even though we leave 15 minutes later, it is still too early, in my opinion. Anyway…if you let me, I will only keep complaining so I am going to move on to the positives of our walks. These days, it is still dark and a little chilly when we leave, but to be honest, I cannot think of a better time to walk. There are only a handful of people on the pavements and barely any traffic. Considering the pandemic we are going through, the early morning hour also helps us step out without our masks. The sounds of birds waking up at dawn, dewdrops on the grass, an occasional fog and the rejuvenating feeling it leaves me with makes it all worth it. Just because I have been talking so much about our walks, please don’t misunderstand us as being extremely sincere. We do have cheat days when either one of us texts the other to say ‘chal yaar, aaj skip karte hain.’ (Hey pal, let’s skip it today). And most of the times, it’s like the other person was just waiting to hear those words, because the immediate reply is always, “Wokay..let’s go back to sleep!” It happened today and let me make it very clear, that I was NOT the one who was sleepy, tired and hungry!!! I did manage to roll out of bed and go for my walk :-D.
Since we are talking about stress busters and happy hormones, I’d like to mention hugs. Growing up in India, hugging was not a big thing, it was actually pretty non-existent if I remember right. These days, though, it is considered trendy. Be it a trend or not, hugging can be very therapeutic. I strongly believe that a hug has a unique property because both the giver and the receiver benefit from it. I have not hugged anyone in the past 7 months, I am looking forward to the day when I can hug my friends and family again.
Another thing, which I consciously try to practice is to smile at most times.It can be difficult in certain situations, but I have been told by some that whenever they see me, I have always had a smile on my face. It is probably because I believe that a smile can bring cheer to the saddest of souls. I even smile at the people whom I pass during my walks, some respond and some don’t, but that’s their choice. I do what i have to. “A smile, someone once said, costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.” Dale Carnegie
So here I am, seven months into this global pandemic, trying to stay sane and healthy with my walks and smiles…waiting for the day when I can hug again.
What has helped you stay sane through the pandemic?