Walking Back to Myself: How Going on Walks Helped Me Avoid Burnout
As I walked through the College Terrace neighborhood of Palo Alto, I stared at the yellowing leaves on the trees and breathed deep. Even for just a moment, all felt right in the world. There was nothing I had to do but exist.
Almost every Monday of my sophomore year, I would go for an hour-long walk off-campus to have my weekly call with my Grandma. As I’d saunter through suburbia, her and I would chat as best friends would, catching up on important social updates, cracking inside jokes, and complaining to each other about the stressors of our week. While her stressors were often a lot more significant than my upcoming psychology midterm or imminent housing application, she always made me feel heard and validated, no matter what. Our walk n’ talks – as my Grandma called them – were my carved-out moments to tune out the anxiety and tune into myself. As guilty as I’d often feel for stepping away from my ever-growing to-do list to walk in circles, I would try my best to enjoy the minutes I had to exist solely as myself. In those moments, I was not my next shift at work, the essays I had to write, or the internship I was applying for. I was a granddaughter, a friend, and most importantly, I was Chase.
The more that I walked and talked with my Grandma, the more I learned how to be myself not just in the College Terrace neighborhood, but everywhere. It was during those moments of existing purely as Chase that I recognized the beauty and necessity of doing activities that bring you joy, especially when you feel overwhelmed, burnt out, and far from the person you want to be.
In a world that is rooted in productivity, it’s easy to become caught up in both a demanding work cycle and a mindset that drains you. Our bodies and minds are not meant to go, go, go all the time. The biggest step towards growth is recognizing that being the best version of ourselves entails unwinding whenever possible. It is crucial, even if only for a few minutes each day, to do something that makes you feel warm inside. Whether your activity of choice is a walk, a few deep breaths, or watching an episode of Jeopardy, finding one that rejuvenates you is imperative to maintaining your mental well-being. By taking time to relax, you will be more present in the work you do, the relationships you maintain, and the person that you are.
Written by: Chase Klavon, Class of 2025
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