In February, a coworker of mine happened to join my weekly team Zoom meeting early.
If you know me, you know that my biggest pet peeve is being late, so of course, I was in the Zoom room too.
As we waited for our other team members to join, I was prepared to engage in the necessary corporate, “How was your weekend?” small talk. Instead, my coworker and I launched into a conversation about our “quarantine habits.”
Having a conversation like this surprised me because I hadn’t been expecting it at 9 a.m. on a Monday, but also because, for the most part, I kept my personal life separate from my part-time job as a public relations intern.
This conversation, however, intrigued me. I hesitated for a moment before I answered: walking.
Like so many others, 2020 was an incredibly trying year for my mental health. I struggled with feeling unsure, uncomfortable and, most of all, trapped within the confines of my home.
Instead of channeling my stress into my usual habit of fighting with my brothers or nitpicking with my parents, I started walking.
It seemed like everyone was doing it. On TikTok, “mental-health walks” and “hot-girl walks” became viral trends. Walking was the only thing that got many of us out of our houses.
I started going on “mental-health walks” each day and, eventually, it turned into a way to deal with anxiety and stress in many different parts of my life.
When I headed back to school in August 2020, I knew I had to find places where I could get that same relief as I did at home.
I started seeking out the best trails and places to walk near campus and kept up my walking routine when everyday pressures started seeping in.
Walking has helped me immensely over the past two years. It has given me the ability to decompress and be at peace with my thoughts.
Before I graduate, it is important to me that I share a few places I go for my walks just in case they can help someone else who copes with stress the same way I do.
- The Saucon Rail Trail
The Saucon Rail Trail is a 7.5 mile converted railroad track that runs through Upper Saucon Township and Lower Saucon Township. The trail is primarily flat, so it is perfect for an easy stroll. My favorite part about the trail is that it is only 10 minutes from campus and it runs parallel to a golf course, so there are views of rolling hills and open land.
- Mount Tammany Red Dot Trail overlooking the Delaware Water Gap
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous and looking for a day-trip hike, check out one of my favorite hikes that is located 40 minutes from Lehigh’s campus. The Red Dot Trail at Mount Tammany is an uphill 3.6 mile loop and is one of the most popular hikes in New Jersey. The trail has amazing views of the Delaware Water Gap throughout the entire way up the mountain, with a breathtaking overlook at the top. To get the most out of the trip, take the Blue Dot Trail back down the mountain to pass waterfalls.
- The D&L Trail
If you are looking to stay close to campus, try the D&L Trail. The path runs for more than 140 miles through Eastern Pennsylvania and is great for wildlife spotting as it runs along the Lehigh River. Head over the Minsi Trail Bridge and down the staircase to access a portion of the trail close to campus. If you visit during the spring, you may even catch turtles sunbathing on tree branches in the canal.
These trails have repaired me, rejuvenated me and inspired me over the past two years. I will miss walking here and the routine I have created, but I know wherever I go next I will bring my quarantine habit with me.