JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT TikTok trends couldn’t get any weirder, the popular social media platform is back with another round of pseudo-scientific health and wellness advice in the form of a viral trend. Although, this time around the bizarreness of the trend doesn’t stem from its peculiarity, but from its mundanity.
Silent walking is blowing up at the moment, and it might just be the easiest wellness trend to conquer. There’s no meditative nirvana to reach here, nor is there an obstacle-laden path to overcome on the way to enlightenment. The only barrier to mastering silent walking is simply relishing in some good old-fashioned peace and quiet, and it can have very real—and very easily attainable—benefits.
So, what’s the secret? Surely there has to be more to silent walking than just walking silently, right? We’ve answered all your most sceptical questions, this is everything you need to know about silent walking.
What is silent walking?
If you struggle to complete your morning commute without the accompaniment of cacophonous levels of white noise penetrating your ear drums, silent walking could be for you. The trend is exactly what it sounds like. Silent walking is what most people would just call walking. It involves opting against earphones in situations where you would usually depend on them and savouring the ensuing silence instead.
The silent walking trend seemingly started when TikTok users discovered that they’re supposed to be able to hear their own thoughts. One user in particular was challenged by her husband to accomplish a 30-minute walk without audio distractions and subsequently found immense mental clarity. “Your brain just gets into this flow state, and everything is quiet,” she said in a video posted on the platform. “Suddenly all these thoughts are flowing into me because I’m giving them space to enter.”
There’s no trick to it, just mindful walking that takes very little commitment to master. And while the idea of using silence as a means of finding relaxation may seem obvious, it’s an unfamiliar concept to many in our increasingly plugged in world.
How is silent walking any different than normal walking?
Let’s be clear, in a physical sense, silent walking is identical to regular walking, which you presumably already do every day. But there’s a difference between switching on autopilot during your daily walks and making a coordinated effort to be mindful and aware of your own mental processes. Silent walking utilises the latter.
Intent is the essence of silent walking, and it’s what distinguishes it from regular walking. You might not consider the impact of silence when walking normally, but making a conscious choice to prioritise quiet over connectivity can open your mind to new idea’s and allow you to be alone with your thoughts for once.
If you’re still struggling to grasp the concept, see the helpful guide below:
What are the benefits of silent walking?
In our modern world, silence is increasingly hard to come by. For many, engaging with silence will appear like an outlier when compared to their typical state. With this in mind, it’s easy to see where the benefits of silent walking, which are similar to other mindful wellness practises, come from.
Silent walking can have beneficial effects on mental health, sleep, stress, and creativity, so long as its practitioners are actually practising mindfulness when doing it. Silent walking works similar to meditation, and is an easy, quick way to refocus your mind. By intentionally walking silently, you are allowing your body and mind to realign, which can result in lower stress levels, better sleep, and boosted creativity by encouraging relaxation and cortisol production.
Cortisol is an important hormone which regulates the body’s response to stress. Relaxation, among other methods, is an effective means of increasing cortisol production. And if silent walking is how people are achieving this relaxed state, who are we to stop them?
What does the silent walking trend say about humanity?
You might be thinking that the silent walking trend is symptomatic of a generation which prioritises constant screen time over relaxation—and you’d be exactly right. What the trend highlights is that many people are so accustomed to facing technological distractions—with background noise on repeat as the soundtrack to their lives—that taking a break from constant stimulation feels like a drastic lifestyle change, begging the following question: has technology progressed to the point that we can never be truly disconnected?
There’s no requirement to be constantly connected. In fact, the scant few moments during a morning commute, a daily dog walk, or a brief lunch break are some of the only times that we can disconnect without any consequences—at least in theory, we’re not sure what your line of work demands. Yet, those are the times when we’re choosing to supplant silence with white noise with the most vigour, be it in the form of music, podcasts, or even a quick social media scroll.
The point is, technology isn’t forcing us to part ways with silence, we’re consciously and deliberately making that decision ourselves. Perhaps this is for the better. After all, global connectivity has sprouted new avenues for human connections, social justice, and entertainment. But if this system persists, we can expect wellness trends like silent walking—which might appear easily dismissible as the product of people spending too much time on social media rather than outdoors—to become an integral aspect of our daily routines.