Right now it’s exam season and things are reaching new levels of stressful but there’s one simple thing that I can always rely on to calm me down and bring me back a sense of peace when things start to get overwhelming inside my head. And that’s to simply walk in the woods alongside my four legged friend Bo. Now I get that everyone is different and so perhaps walking through the woods, come rain or shine is not going to work for everybody but for me the sounds and smells of woodland do something to my senses and transport me to a world away from my stresses. In fact, the woods on a damp day has a smell like no other, a smell that reminds me of time spent in the woods as a child in Yorkshire, hunting for treasure with our new metal detectors, building tyre swings and dens in the thick undergrowth and then returning, muddy, wet and cold to a plate of home cooked chips and a place beside the fire.
The act of walking itself is proven to boost endorphins, those magical chemicals that improve mood and self-esteem. Alongside the chemical effects it has on my body, the exercise itself is a welcome change from sitting static hunched over my revision notes at my desk, and I always sleep a little better at night if my body has had some level of activity. If I’m feeling particularly energised I turn the walk into a run and jog alongside Bo down the muddy paths, there’s a real thrill that comes with running together and for a minute I’m a part of his pack, thundering along with the wind in my hair, do excuse me if I don’t chase the squirrels though.
Being around Bo reminds me of the simple pleasures in life, his happiness and blissful unawareness of life’s strains somehow makes me live in the moment, to appreciate more the little things going on around me and put into perspective the worries that at that moment feel so all-encompassing inside my head. Animals have always had a soothing effect on me, and even from a young age, I’ve taken so much pleasure from being around them, caring for them and seeing them happy.
I have two exams left to go until my degree course at Kings College London is completed, Bo may have quite a few woodland walks between now and then, but at the end of the day, I know that I have given it my all, worked my hardest and tried my best.
What’s your go-to stress relief?