I’ve always been very active. I used to go to a weekly pilates class, had a volunteering job where I was on my feet all day, and met friends to walk three times a week. Although once the lockdown started in March, all of this suddenly stopped.
As a precaution, I decided to self isolate in the first week of the lockdown. While I’m used to my own company, I started to feel it having an impact on my mood. I was getting fed up in the house by myself and started to feel more anxious. I decided that I needed to find a new routine and get back out in the fresh air.
My daughter bought me a fitness tracker for Christmas. Being able to see my daily step count gave me the motivation to get out each day and meet my target (or even beat it!). Before I knew it, I had set myself my own personal ‘step challenge’. This started off as a random stroll on sunny days and then developed into a planned route, for a minimum of one hour...in all weathers! My new challenge was not only a pleasant distraction, it also instantly lifted my mood and improved my general wellbeing.
On my longer, more adventurous walks, I have discovered areas of Dumfries that I have never seen before (despite living here for 35 years!). I also developed a new found love of podcasts, which have become part of my daily routine.
By late March I had a few favourite walking routes and started to see familiar faces each day. This ranged from a 2 year old and his granny to a 91 man out walking his dog. At first we greeted each other with a polite nod, then a hello, and a few weeks later we would have a quick chat as we passed each other. Seeing friendly (and now familiar!) faces definitely lifted my spirits. It made me feel less isolated and made me realise that a lot of people were in the same position.
Ironically, most of the people I have met during my walks have lived in the area for years. Chances are we have passed each other in the car many times, but never said hello until now.
While the lockdown restrictions are starting to lift and I’m looking forward to meeting up with my friends again, I intend to carry on with my new routine. I look forward to my daily walk, catching up on my podcasts and saying hello to my fellow walkers.
The last few months have undoubtedly been upsetting and stressful, but walking has helped me feel in control. I’m coming out the end feeling calmer, healthier and determined to keep it up the routine.