(An audible version of this blog post is available at the bottom of this written one!)
When was the last time you told yourself to “Go take a hike”? You might be wondering “what does that phrase even mean anyway?” You’ve heard it before and maybe even used is a time or two, directing it towards someone whose company you’d rather not have in the moment you uttered it.
As it turns out in the 1800’s the word “hike” was commonly used to tell someone, rather rudely, to depart the immediate area ... immediately. “Take a hike” was a fairly popular phrase during the 1940’s here in the United States. This may have had something to do with so many men going off to train for military service where hiking and gruff Drill Sergeants made the act of hiking a rather undesirable thing. Having been in the military myself and been on many a less than leisurely walk in the woods during training exercises I can attest that the negativity surrounding the term is a real thing. I can also attest to the fact that taking a vigorous walk in the woods often enough, accompanied by a cadre of two hundred or so of you closest buddies, will toughen you up pretty quickly.
In short the phrase “Go Take A Hike” has come to mean “leave me alone”. This got me to thinking about my own experiences with this idea of taking a hike. Being alone in your own thoughts to solve problems or confronting frustrations personally or professionally can call for action in the form of a relief valve. Some people choose a diversion that doesn’t solve the issue at hand or help resolve it, but instead covers up or delays the inevitable return of or to the problem or frustration.
It’s good to get away from being mired in the frustration of a perceived or real problem or failure. What matters in the moment is how one goes about accomplishing this task. The best way is with a healthy and productive diversion that may lead to the solution to the difficulty faced. Watching reruns of ‘The Dukes of Hazard’ or disappearing down a social media rabbit hole may cover up the problem but does nothing to solve it in most cases. What’s needed is some type of stimulus that doesn’t come in the form of food, recreational libations, self medication or the wasting of time, which is often the response when confronted by the difficulties we all face in life at one point or another, personally or professionally.
It’s been several years now since I discovered a very simple solution for this issue. I found that telling myself to “Go Take A Hike”, or rather a walk, and then acting upon this by doing so, when I slammed up against the proverbial problem wall, was an amazing way to relieve the frustration of the moment. It often resulted in the revelation of the answer to whatever question I was wrestling with. Somehow the act of movement, fresh air, and exercise seemed to stimulate my right brain creativity. I’d find myself not only intellectually and emotionally free of the burden I had left with but returning with answers to the problem I had been struggling to resolve.
“How in the world”, I contemplated, “could telling myself to go take a hike, and then doing so, create the solutions I sought?” It turns out that the question I posed has a sound medical answer to it. Not to get too much into the medical weeds here but it has been shown that walking is a key to reducing cortisol which is responsible for creating stress. People who engage in walking not only decrease stress but can also reduce their risk of depression by up to 30% and, according to studies, boost creativity and reduce brain fog which by doing so results in an increase in problem solving capabilities. Taking a short twenty minute walk helps release endorphins that make a person feel happier too, and who among us wishes to be less happy these days? There are obvious physical benefits as well in helping with weight loss, muscle strength and even better sleep at night.
There have been many studies done and articles written about how the simple act of walking can improve both mental and physical health. I know from personal experience that this is certainly true and as an artist, writer and educational creative have benefited from the seemingly magical result of an increase in critical thinking and creative ideas experienced during my own walks. It has served to open up channels that activities which don’t involve physical action and exercise simply can’t compete with.
I feel so strongly about this and excited to share it with you that I’d like to issue you a friendly challenge of sorts. Give walking a try. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate excursion. In fact I’d suggest going out of your way to make it as simple and easy on yourself as possible. For the next week or two take a daily walk of no more than twenty minutes. There’s no need to travel very far from home and no reason to transport yourself any further that out your door and around your immediate neighborhood. Find a time that doesn’t interfere with your regular work or home pattern. Perhaps there’s a certain time of day that you’ve noticed your levels of frustration or anxiety begin to feel stronger or begin to peak. This would be and ideal time to take a break and go for a walk.
Try this for a week or two and record your results in terms of how this makes a difference, if it does, in your creativity, problem solving capabilities, overall emotional and mental outlook. Then do me a favor and let me know what your results are. Please leave them here as comments on this Blog, if you would, so I can read them. If you have questions don’t hesitate to leave those too. I really want you reach out and engage with me here at The Davis Arts Legacy because I do this not for myself but for you. This a a big part of the legacy that I’m building to help you build your own. Your engagement helps me understand how to help you better and this is why I look forward to hearing from you!
Now, and I mean this is the least gruff and most friendly of ways, go take a hike, or walk, or stroll, or whatever you wish to refer to it as. Just start the action that will lead to a positive difference in creating the art that is within you and your life. I’m Michael from the Davis Arts Legacy. I create for a living and help others create a life worth living. And so can you. Until Next time.
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