TikTok’s silent-walking trend explained – SheKnows

TikTok wellness trends come and go, and it’s often questionable how good they actually are. We’re not here to hate dating hot girls — it’s more the obsession with “clean” eating-chopping-living-chopping-everything, detoxing every day (note: your body is detoxing itself!) and idealizing the impossible the perfect morning routine (when simple works just as well). However, some TikTok trends can really have a positive impact on our health and well-being, and silent walking might just be one of them.

Silent walks are exactly what they sound like: going for a walk without music, podcasts, or videos, unplugging as much as possible, and being as mindful as possible in the moment. It may not sound shocking, but think about how involved we are in our daily lives. Many of us spend eight to nine hours (or more) staring at a screen, listening to music or podcasts, watching TV, and constantly maintaining a state of distraction. When that’s your “normal,” completely unplugging for a 20-minute walk can feel like a revelation—and a “breath of fresh air,” says Ryan Sultan, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist and therapist and professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University. University.

“Silent walking allows for a mental release, a space where one can be with one’s thoughts, observe the world around one, and engage in a form of moving meditation,” Dr. Sultan tells SheKnows. “In the chaos of modern life, finding moments of silence and mindfulness can have a profound impact on mental health.”

The trend seems to have started thanks to creator Mady Maio’s now-deleted TikTok. According to New York Times, Mayo’s friend actually encouraged her to try, and it was an idea she initially scoffed at. “My anxiety never could,” she said.

The first two minutes of Mayo’s silent walks felt like mental “chaos,” she said, but eventually she entered a “flow state” where she came up with new ideas and found “clarity,” according to New York Post. “The universe and your intuition come to you through whispers, so if you’re never alone with your thoughts and you’re never silent, you’ll miss the whispers,” she said, “and those whispers are the most important to pay attention to.” It’s a habit Mayo seems to have stuck to, noting in recent videos that she still takes 30-minute gentle walks in the morning.

The trend has since spread to TikTok. It did win over its inevitable detractors (“Gen Z discovers walking!” was popular), but many creators have found silent walking to be both a mental challenge and a much-needed form of reconnecting with themselves. “This is a great example of how dependent I am on constant stimulation,” said one artist who struggled to calm her thoughts. “I’m so overstimulated,” wrote another. “The idea of ​​going for a walk and just listening to my own thoughts was ELITE.”

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Experts also support the silent walking trend. “From a mental health perspective, this practice can be quite beneficial,” says Dr. Sultan. “Engaging in physical activity like walking already has multiple mental health benefits, such as improving mood and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.” Add in the mindfulness that comes from disconnecting from your devices, and you can enhance these benefits, she continues Dr. Sultan, “helping reduce stress and promote a sense of peace and calm.”

Silent walking is “essentially a form of active meditation,” New York-based psychotherapist Kimberlynn Shepard tells SheKnows, which may suit people who struggle with sitting meditation. “A quiet walk is active enough to keep you stimulated and offers outside distractions to keep your mind from wandering,” Shepherd explains. It also helps you feel connected to something outside of yourself. “If you’re walking outside, look at the trees around you, smile at a stranger, smell the fresh air, feel the cool autumn breeze,” she says. “You activate your senses, which stimulates your brain and allows you to be mindful.”

Shepherd says he has been recommending the practice to clients for some time, and Dr. Sultan says he would “absolutely” do the same. “Incorporating silent walking into your routine can be a practical and affordable way to improve mental well-being,” he explains. “This allows for a moment of pause, encouraging people to connect with their surroundings and inner thoughts more authentically, promoting a sense of mindfulness that can be a protective factor against the stresses of everyday life.”

If you’re feeling increasingly stressed and disconnected, it might be worth trying to go for a 20- or 30-minute quiet walk. While not a substitute for professional mental health services like therapy, quiet walking can be a valuable tool to add to your mental health routine.

If you’re looking for other ways to improve your mental health, try these affordable apps:

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