Never underestimate the power and healing of a nice long walk. When life gets complicated, and my thoughts are swirling, I try and get out of the house, and just go for a walk.
I realize it’s not an approach that works for most people, but for others, myself included, it’s a great way to shed some of the stressors of the world.
I find walking to be even more effective when I can make it part of my daily routine. Which, as it turns out (insert sarcasm here), is healthy. A good 30 minute walk a day can do wonders for people who have sedentary lifestyles. Also, the science is pretty clear that physical activity is good for not only a person’s physical health, but their mental health, as well.
If you’re someone who lives a life of high anxiety and depression, or if you have difficulty falling asleep, try taking regular half-hour walks just before bed and, as much as possible, include some mild physical exertion. The worst that could happen is you see no change, but on the other hand, it could help relieve a little of life’s tensions.
On my walks, I use the time to escape and appreciate the world around me. I try and be as observant as possible and notice the smallest details in what could be considered obscure and overlooked things.
I find myself at ease most when I take the time to examine nature. Birds flying in formations, insects walking in tall grass, trees swaying back and forth and the flicker of their leaves in a breeze, and so on. For me, nature is a great way to distract my mind and help me realize the insignificance of the modern world I live in. If you don’t have much nature to observe on your walk, no big deal. The main idea here is that you allow yourself to be distracted and take your mind off of the things that cause you angst.
Something else, since this is “my” time, one big thing I try and do as often as possible is think of specific moments in my life where positive outcomes resulted. I do my best to over think those particular points in time, too. Not just the “why,” but where did it happen, who was there, and all the little details in between that I can recall. And I’m very deliberate in this analysis because I know that many times, and quite easily, I do the very same thing when negative thoughts enter my mind. I use my walks to try and exert the same or greater energy on thinking about the positive than the negative.
On a side note, I find this strategy to be quite effective, but easier said than done. As is the case with most things that involve what is good for us versus what is bad for us. It’s very easy to put on weight, or go into debt, or think negatively, but shedding the weight, getting out of debt, or being optimistic is always much harder. Who knows why. That’s just life, I guess.
Which is why I try to do my best to recall, focus, and relive the good moments of life. And no moment is too small, either. Got my driver’s license, graduated high school, received an unexpected compliment, kids are healthy, etc. I realize it may sound silly, but for me it works.
In the end, I stand by what I said previously. A nice long walk is not only an opportunity to get in some physical activity for your physical health, but also a chance to be distracted long enough to relieve some stress and help in the area of mental wellness. To ease some anxiety, or maybe help prepare your body for a good night’s rest. Give it a try, and make it part of your daily routine. Take a Walk.