A Mental Health 'Walk-About'

Have you ever heard of a walk-about?

When I was in Australia as a foreign exchange student back in 1981 (that's me in the pic, the one with the cap ;-), I heard tennis great Evonne Goolagong use the phrase "walk-about." 

Goolagong was a tremendous player from the 1970s to mid-80s. No. 1 in the world, 13 major titles, won nearly eighty percent of her matches.

 But sometimes she would lapse mentally (like we all do) and miss perfectly good shots. Her explanation to reporters: her mind went 'walk-about.'

The phrase is an Australian term referring to an Aboriginal practice of occasionally taking a short break from the real world to wander the bush. As an Australian with an Aboriginal heritage, Goolagong applied the term to her mental lapses during competition.

But for me, I think the phrase is a positive one. It's like taking a mental break from the pressures of day to day life and work in order to wander about nature's wilderness and recharge one's batteries, both mental and physical. 

On most of my walk-abouts, I have no real plan or agenda. It's different than a vacation. One, I usually go by myself and leave Julie behind. (She gets her own couple of weeks away from me, so it's fair! lol) Two, it's almost always within driving distance and only lasts a few days.

For example, a couple of years ago I toured western Nebraska with the windows down, taking back roads and driving 45 miles per hour, stopping at historic markers or interesting sites. Yes, Nebraska. Great country, no agenda. Just driving and letting my mind refresh.

Occasionally, I'll head out with a writing buddy of mine. One year we went to Colorado to write in a mountain cabin for a weekend. My agenda there was just to journal creatively and see where it took me. Other walk-abouts include state parks or wilderness areas where I'd bring a lunch, my Bible, and wander trails all day.

The purpose, for me, is mental health. Get rid of the stress. Unload my complaints and anxieties and concerns - give them to God and not try to take them back. So maybe spiritual health as well, though my purpose isn't specifically religious. I just want to relax.

And let my mind go walk-about. 

During a tennis match, it probably didn't help Evonne Goolagong. But for those of us feeling the pressure of this world, maybe a mental break to 'wander the bush' is a good thing, something we need to plan into our lives.

What about you? Do you go on your own personal retreats? How do you recharge your batteries? Would love to hear from you in the comments or via email. Have a restful and blessed day.

Image by Big_Heart from Pixabay. Used by permission.


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