I can’t tell you how many times I have stepped outside into the elements begging them to carry my worries away as I strode along. There is something so empowering about moving one foot in front of the other because after all forward is forward.
Whilst I walk I feel less stuck as my body and mind responds:
Regardless of how I set out – in a funk, feeling anxious or just numb, walking in nature resets my system and eases my mind.
Walking connects me to self; helps hone my purpose, shakes me free from my worries and puts into perspective what I value most in life.
I was once afraid of being seen moving my body in public
Not too many moons ago, I didn’t have the confidence to take myself for a walk alone. I had endured years of body shaming and was riddled with anxiety about being seen in public, moving my larger body around. The shame I felt prickled up my limbs, over my chest and landed hard, flushing my face. It often knocked the wind out of me and resulted in me making every excuse to dodge exercise, and the feelings of utter inadequacy I felt. I was a prisoner in my own mind and body.
My life changed dramatically when I was introduced to the concept of Health At Every Size®, a compassionate way to focus on well-being rather than weight, and it made perfect sense to me.
Now, not only do I walk alone, I also run, striding along in my larger strong body that has birthed two daughters and successfully carried me through several decades.
Why moving my body is so damn important to me now!
These days I use the most magnificent gift of being able to step outside and walk or run to anywhere I wish to go, to ease my worries and tend to my emotional health.
I no longer take heed of the old me, that may be concerned with how my bum looks in my leggings, instead I just pop on a smile and move forward.
I honour what comes up as I walk. All the fear, grief, anger, hurt, joy, hope, passion, and excitement that comes with each step. I allow all of those emotions to pass over me like waves and I keep moving my feet.
As I’ve learnt to accept my own pace in life, I’ve realised just how much positive change is within grasp if I honour who I am; after all, we are all perfectly imperfect.
Walking and talking can positively change your mental health
I have made such monumental changes in the way I feel about myself and I now know that with compassion and humility I can also travel the distance with others as they navigate important changes in their own lives.
So besides my own personal love of the outdoors, within my private psychotherapy practice I offer Walk and Talk Therapy sessions. These sessions combine walking and psychotherapy which help my clients to get ‘unstuck’ from difficult issues they are facing. The simple act of walking and talking leads to natural conversation in a relaxed setting.
It is a flexible and compassionate way to boost my clients’ feel-good endorphins and improves their mental health. Walk and Talk Therapy is recognised by The American Psychological Association as being a natural fit.
Walking and Talking with a therapist can help break down awkward barriers.
Many of my clients who prefer Walk and Talk Therapy say that it feels like they’re simply taking a walk with a friend, rather than worrying that they have to hold eye contact in a traditional therapy session.
The difference in walking and talking with a qualified therapist though is that all topics can be discussed without fear of judgement or your loved ones worrying unnecessarily about you.
So the next time you consider tending to the most precious thing in your life, your mental health, then consider a Walk and Talk Therapy session with me as I listen with compassion to your story.
Ailsa Robson is a Walk and Talk Therapist based in Adelaide, S.A
She has a Masters Degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy, is a Health At Every Size® specialist , has her own private practice and is an author.
She provides confidential counselling and psychotherapy sessions whilst walking outside with her clients, with the back-up of her two beautiful and cosy consulting rooms located in Stirling in the Adelaide Hills, and at Brighton Beach.
Ailsa’s clients are capable, intelligent and savvy folk juggling many responsibilities but find themselves stuck on one or more aspects in their life, whether it is self-confidence, relationships, coping mechanisms or they’ve experienced a loss. Clients can book directly into a session with Ailsa without waiting for a GP referral, and they are welcome to bring their child or fur baby along to a Walk and Talk session.
Ailsa is also the author of her book Perfectly Imperfect: Raw reflections on body image, mothering, love and loneliness (that you don’t usually share). GLAM Adelaide suggests that “Despite having a maternal focus, this book isn’t just for mothers. It’s for women. It’s for any woman who has struggled with insecurity, destructive relationships, dieting, IVF, body shaming, or running on empty.”
Ailsa is water baby, an incessant muser and writer and lives with her husband, two daughters, and two puss-cats in the Adelaide Hills. Usually you’ll find her in less-than-sharp active wear on Walk and Talk sessions with clients, or musing down by the ocean.