Relieve Stress With Walking
This was my plan in 2017. I was going to use walking as a way to relieve and reduce my stress. Now, I wasn’t sure what was going to come of this experiment but it just felt like the thing that was going to allow me to live with less of the stress that I was dealing with at that time.
Emotional stress can put a large toll on your mind and body. People often don’t realize how much stress can affect everything from their mental health to the food they eat, their digestion, and their overall health. It is important to relieve stress when you can, which walking can definitely help with.
Walk More Outdoors
Our first tip for using walking to help relieve your stress is to walk outdoors. This can be going on a hike, walking by the beach or around a local lake, taking your dogs for a walk in your neighborhood, or walking to a nearby festival or farmer’s market. Just try to get outside and do some walking.
What I decided to do was walk out of my house each day and either turn left or turn right. This way I would walk the same distance each day and yet I was walking in opposite direction. This helped with what I was seeing daily. It was different because I was seeing a different perspective. And I was not in a habit of going only in one direction which felt right to me.
If you can’t go outside and use the treadmill, listen to something relaxing or gets your mind distracted. This is another way to relieve stress with your walking, since what you are benefiting from is the distraction. You aren’t just overthinking or letting the stress consume you, but just getting more walking done in general.
Take it Easy
Try to use walking as a form of self-care and a way to relax, not as your main form of fitness. If your walking routine is a rigorous speed-walking workout, it isn’t going to help you relax much. People often become almost obsessed with their fitness routine early on, even if you are just walking. This can lead to restricting calories, walking longer and harder than you intended, and instead of helping with your stress, making it worse.
If this sounds like a habit you are guilty of getting into, the best thing you can do is stop thinking about walking as a form of fitness or a way to lose weight, and instead just as a form of self-care that is meant to help you relieve stress.
What I found when I was walking too fast was to be more conscious of my breathing. I would breath in for the count of 4 steps, hold for 1 step and breath out for the count of 4 steps. This helped me to slow down enough where my walk would be more stress reducing.
Try Breathing Exercises
You can also do breathing exercises and mindfulness as you are walking. Many people find that their walking routine becomes like a short therapy session, where they are able to clear their mind and be present in the moment. It is like a form of meditation, where you really focus more on being mindful during the entire experience.
For breathing exercises, it is really easy to do while you are walking. What you want to do is focus only on your breathing. Inhale and exhale slowly, paying attention to how you feel and what you hear every time you intake a breath. This helps to relax you while you are walking, and can get you into a meditative head-space.
Use Walking as Your Form of Self-Care
As we mentioned before, try to think about walking as a way to practice self-care. This is really important if you have a lot of stress in your life. Remember that walking helps to release endorphins and is amazing for your mental health as much as your physical health.
Without causing extra stress in your life do your best to walk every day for at least a few minutes, whether you prefer walking alone or with friends or family.
The result of my walking plan was I was able to walk over 3 Million Steps in 13 months and it was fantastic. There were only a few days that I did not get outdoors for my walk. I found that being stressed and getting out for a walk helped me relax and think about my life in ways that were healing. The connection I felt between moving my body, my feet hitting the ground, feeling nature on my face and body was remarkably calming for my mind, heart and spirit.
I don't get out every day these days and yet when I do it is that same wonderful, uplifting feeling. Walking is something I would highly suggest doing not only for relieving stress, do it to move your body, connect with nature and the outdoors as well as taking time for yourself.
Have you used walking as a way to relieve stress? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Be sure to get in touch with us if we can help you and if you have any questions.
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