It finally happened, y’all. It got warm again. The clocks changed, the calendar turned, and by golly it got warm again! This does a few things for us: 1) it allows us to bid farewell to the persistent nuisance of winter, 2) it lets us working folk experience the sunset for the first time in months, and 3) it gives us the ability to spend more time outside.
All those things are wonderful, and definitely play a role in being happy, but sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes, regardless of how nice it is outside, or how much time we spend outside, we’re still at the mercy of external factors. It could be dissatisfaction at work, a troubled relationship, or just the fact that we don’t have a lot of time to slow down and decompress.
Today is National Walking Day – which is a real thing, apparently – and instead of telling you to just get outside and take a few steps, I want you to get outside and take those steps with intention. Don’t walk for the sake of walking, walk for the sake of you.
Walking is activity, and it’s universally accepted that being active is good for you. It strengthens your heart, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and gets your muscles moving. But more than that, walking, if done mindfully, can help your mental health as well.
This is your chance to remove yourself from your routine and reacquaint yourself with the world around you, to give yourself a little reset.
If meditation isn’t your thing, you can always just get outside and walk attentively. Look at the trees, the leaves, the grass, the sky, the clouds. Take note of the birds and planes and insects flying around. Hell, walk to a park bench and people watch if that’s more your speed. Just take in the sights and sounds of your surroundings. Reconnect with the world around you and yes, if you pass ‘em, stop and smell the roses.
We are surrounded by electronic devices all day long and as much as we might not like it, they can play a pretty big role in our happiness. If we go to check Facebook and there are no new notifications, a little bit of sadness bubbles up. If we text someone and they don’t text back immediately, anxiety starts to set in. For these reasons, when you take a walk, leave your devices out of it. That includes music #gasp.
This isn’t going to be easy, you know, because walking around is harder than not walking around, but there are ways to make it more palatable. For example, don’t wait until the end of the work day to get out and about. It might be hard to get out and do things, but its infinitely harder to get out and do things once you’ve crossed the threshold into your home. Instead, take the time during your lunch break to walk, or walk part of the way home. Break up the routine and your body (and mind) will thank you.
As humans, we’re not the best at knowing when we’re in need of a decompression. It usually takes weeks and months to get to that realization. Stay ahead of the curve and make decompressing and being mindful part of your routine. That doesn’t mean you have to do it every day, or even every week. If you just want to do it every fourth Tuesday of the month, great! Just make sure that on every fourth Tuesday of the month you’re out there. Not only will it give you the chance to enjoy the outdoors, but it’ll help boost your mood, too.
Until next time – walk with me.