Dear TPB Community,
I’d love your help.
A few days ago, when I was feeling particularly agoraphobic, I remembered an article I once read (find it here) from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, stating that even a five minute walk could help with feelings and symptoms of anxiety and depression. I’ve remembered this article often on days when I feel distracted, anxious, stressed, or restless. Exercise is a powerful, simple, and free form of therapy, and there are forms of exercise that work for people with just about any physical or psychological limitation.
When feeling truly terrible, it’s very hard to believe that something as small and brief as a five minute walk can help in any meaningful way. For those of us who suffer from severe agoraphobia (as I once did), going outside for five minutes can seem utterly daunting and unmanageable. With practice, though, I promise that a five minute walk can become an effortless routine, a pleasurable indulgence, or even the first step toward a full life beyond agoraphobia.
With this in mind, I’d like to start a movement to give agoraphobics, anxiety- and depression-sufferers, stressed or sedentary people, and all the rest of us the support we need to take those first baby steps outside. Here’s what I propose:
Step 1: Set a timer on your phone or watch, open the door, and step outside for five whole minutes. It doesn’t matter how far you go. Maybe it takes a few tries to work up to five whole minutes, or maybe five minutes turn into ten, or twenty. The point is, you don’t know until you try.
Step 2: Look around you. Take in the world. Your phone screen will always be there, waiting for you– the outside world, meanwhile, is full of new and beautiful things– even if it’s just a pigeon landing on a wrought-iron fire escape, or the sun glinting off a brightly-colored parked car– and you deserve to witness it.
Step 3: Snap a photo! Pull out your phone or a camera and take a picture of something you wouldn’t have gotten to see otherwise. This is both a marker of success for you, and a token of support for others who may need inspiration to join the #my5minutewalk movement. Post your pic, with the hashtag #my5minutewalk, to Twitter (@PanicButtonTalk), Instagram (@panicbuttonblog), on the Facebook page (The Panic Button) or as a comment on this blog post!
For me, yesterday, my #my5minutewalk photos were of new crocuses and snowdrops peeking out of the piles of dead leaves in Riverside Park:
Bonus: As I knelt on the ground a little ways off the path, a man walking his dog noticed me, and came over to see what I was doing. We had a really nice moment, a lovely little conversation, and I got to meet his friendly and adorable dog, Georgie! So, #my5minutewalk was both therapeutic for me AND helped another person find beauty in the world, not to mention the moment of connection we had looking at the flowers together that would otherwise never have happened.
Please join the movement! Take a little walk, tag your photos with #my5minutewalk, and share with anyone in your life who could benefit from five minutes outside ❤