52 Weeks of Self Care and Healing

Walking

I wanted to make sure I included self care that can basically be done anywhere and with no cost. Though I want people to consider investing in themselves, I know it’s not always possible on a tight budget. Walking is a great way to practice self care. Studies show that the main barrier to walking is literally getting up off the couch to do it. You’ve probably had that magnetized-to-the-couch feeling and we underestimate how a walk might improve our mood. The truth is, walking is likely to change your energy and make you feel better. You don’t have to take a researcher’s word for it, try it yourself. Try and bundle it with something else you enjoy like music. Or even a chore you need to do like mailing your something. This week, when you feel stressed, angry or some other difficult emotion try taking a walk around the block and just see how you feel at the end. One thing to keep in mind though is not to walk and ruminate. Try and use your senses to stay mindful. Spend time noticing all the sights, smells and sounds on your walk instead of mentally preparing a response to your rude coworker. Don’t let them steal the peace of a daily jaunt.

How I Use Walking

Walking is an important part of my self care practice and I try and be intentional in using it several ways.

1) Break Up The Day

One thing I try and keep in mind is not sitting all day. My job is not physical at all and I am prone to hip and back pain. Just walking to the local market or around my office’s neighborhood breaks up my day. The obstacle is getting offline, in my free time I get on emails or social media and sometimes it is hard to pull myself away but I usually pay for it later. Hey, sometimes we all have to learn the hard way

2) Walking with A Loved One

I try and walk with my partner, friends and family when I can. In the morning if I have the rare luxury of a late start or on the weekends, I try to walk with my husband to get coffee rather than brewing my own. Coffee can be a great motivator. If I’m out to dinner with a friend, I like to suggest walking around the block after the meal instead of sitting at the table long after the meal is finished while the waiter scowls at us for blocking a table turnover. I notice when I’m with someone at the house or even a restaurant, I am more prone to get distracted but on a walk, it’s easier to talk for some reason. I usually feel like I’ve worked out something after a walk with a friend.

3) A Mindful Walk Alone

Like I mentioned above, a walk alone can be a recipe for rumination. The way I keep a walk mindful is to focus on what’s around me and sometimes including music. For me, I have a few walking playlists that compliment a walk. For instance, I have playlists depending on morning or afternoon and maybe even the setting. But that’s just me, play what you like. I look at the trees and the houses or the ocean and the families playing frisbee. Staying focused on what I can see, hear and smell keeps me present.

What Walking is Good For:

  • When you have a job where you sit a lot or don’t get to go outside often
  • When you want the benefits of movement without rigorous exercise (exercise is great, but we don’t always feel like it, it’s fine)
  • When you are in an anxious thought loop
  • When you feel disconnected (include someone)
  • When you’re bored
  • When you’re watching tv and you get that sense that maybe it’s bordering on excessive

Note: This is a series where I cover 52 healing practices to increase mental hygiene. They are not intended to replace necessary mental health or medical services. I am not paid to do this but it should be noted that these articles are my opinion and not medical advice. Please discuss with your healthcare professionals to determine what practices are right for your needs.