Breathe, 1, 2, 3, she willed. You can do this. She shut her eyes and began inhaling big gulps of air and expelling the air like she was trying to inflate a balloon. That was one of the things her therapist advised her to practice on.
“What is something you want to do but you haven’t done in a long time?” Her therapist asked during their recent appointment.
I don’t know, she wanted to say. Why does my mind go blank every time someone asks a question? She wiped her hands on her pants even though her hands weren’t sweaty. “Take your time,” her therapist said in a comforting voice, “there’s no need to hurry.”
She scanned her bedroom, looking for inspiration while avoiding her therapist’s gaze on her laptop screen and trying not to be overtaken by her anxiety, the companion she had been seeking to rid for the past decade or so. A few minutes later, she said, “I haven’t gone hiking in a while.”
“Does hiking help lessen your anxiety?”
She thought back to the previous summer when she had spent the day alone on the trail. She felt so happy and free that day. It was as though her anxiety had decided to take the day off and go bug someone else. It was probably the best she had felt in a long time.
She nodded. “What made you stop?” Her therapist asked, curious.
She thought about replying with her usual excuses – work, chores, and family. These are not excuses, she mentally chided at herself. Instead, she replied quietly, “I’m not sure, can’t find the time, I guess.”
“Have you thought about returning? To hiking, I mean?” She nodded and in that moment, she knew that’s what she’s doing that weekend.
As she felt her anxiety ease, she whipped out her phone and checked the GPS. The blue arrow is pointing right. Gripping her hiking pole with her left hand, phone with her right, and camera dangling in front of her chest, she smiled and made a decision, I need to return to nature more often. With GPS, of course, she mentally added.