Almost a year ago, I published a Monday Postcard with the title “Walking Solo”. I wrote that postcard after a weekend walk in Bangkok’s Ari neighbourhood. Corona was already on my radar. Wuhan had been in the news and locals were worried that the virus may have come to Thailand on board the many flights during Chinese New Year. I remember deciding to go for a walk outside instead of sitting in a restaurant or a mall. We had heard the first rumours that the virus may spread via central air conditioning systems. I thought a walk would be a good compromise. At this point in time – it was mid-February – nobody expected how the following months would turn out.
I took the skytrain to Ari and then just walked down the residential areas, took some nice pictures of the neighbourhood and ended my Sunday afternoon walk with a coffee and a “Krapfen”, the Austrian version of the doughnut. By chance, I had discovered a branch of a Viennese bakery in this trendy Bangkok neighbourhood. I had a mask with me for the train and I tried to keep distance – this was before the term “social distancing” came up. While walking, I enjoyed the beauty of the neighbourhood, the bustling street food scene at the main road, the galleries and all the small shops. A month later, I left for Austria – earlier than planned due to lockdowns and travel plans. And, like for so many, that was most of my travel in 2020.
During the first lockdown in Austria, my walks became a ritual. Almost every day I went for a walk. I started with four-kilometer-walks. Soon they became much longer. I leave the house listening to podcasts, but when I leave the town and walk along the fields, I turn everything off and just enjoy the silence. I also discovered a new passion: watching Austria’s “wildlife”: hares, deer, pheasants, buzzards. I even discovered a peacock family. My family now jokes when I leave the house and asks me if I go to see “my animals”.
No matter the weather, I am heading out. In summer, I usually went very early in the morning. I sometimes walked in the rain. At the moment, I bundle up in hundreds of layers and head out into the cold – or even snow like yesterday. Due to the lockdown, no restaurants or shops are currently open in Vienna. If I am early for an appointment, I use the time for a walk as well, because sitting in the cold car is not fun either.
I have no idea why but this walking ritual has become my way to calm down. I always enjoyed walking. But during the pandemic, it became even more important for me. I can push away the scary news about the spread of the virus and travel bans and I can forget about the related uncertainty. I sometimes get kind of lost on these walks and return home from a 13-kilometer-walk. I am out for 60-90 minutes, which may seem like a big time commitment. But it actually is not. Pre-Covid, I invested the same amount of time to go to the gym. Or, I became really unproductive and ended up searching stuff online for the same amount of time. After my walks, I feel fresh, more energized and I manage to put my thoughts in order. (Most of them at least.)
I read somewhere that the lockdowns impact our creativity and cause a feeling of fatigue because we tend to see the same things and lack exciting stimuli. I know that I cannot compensate our life “pre-Covid” completely by walking. My walks are also not a trip abroad. But at least they let me escape to a different little world – a new path, a deer family, a deserted hut in the forest. Maybe it makes me feel that I could escape from whatever is on my mind.
What has been your go-to method to put your mind at ease and get a fresh start? Have you tried walking? Let me know in the comments below, via email or on my social media channels. I look forward to discussing this topic with you!