"I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it, " Soren Kierkegaard. If you need stress relief, walking is a great quick fix.
- Take a walking break: At work or school, when break time comes, don't lounge next to the coffee stand or water cooler. Take a walk for five to 15 minutes. If you have a sit-down job, it is even more important to get the blood moving and loosen up.
- Get a new perspective: Getting out of a stressful environment, even for a few minutes, can be a needed break. But by walking you are also giving your brain and body a new activity to work on. This can help break up obsessing on a problem, and even lead to arriving at a new plan or solution.
- Refreshing and mood-improving: Walking, especially brisk walking, increases blood flow to the brain and can stimulate the release of the body's natural mood-improving chemicals, endorphins.
- Relationship-building: If you walk with others, it is very natural to build a better rapport. A walk gives you new things to talk about, new experiences you are having together. If the kids or spouse are driving you crazy or you think you are growing apart, start walking together. You will discover new ways to appreciate each other.
- An antidote to stress-eating: Many of us develop bad eating habits with stress. If we take a walk before we indulge in a stress snack, we at least burn off some of the extra calories, and may even decide we don't need the stress snack at all.
- A less-stressful aerobic activity: Many people turn getting exercise into its own stressful activity. Having to be at an exercise class at a particular time. Having all of the right gear. Meeting your training schedule. Competing with others. Walking doesn't have to have any of that. You only need a pair of comfortable shoes. You can walk any time. If the weather is bad, you can walk inside on a treadmill or inside a local mall. Nobody is keeping score.
It is possible to turn walking into its own stressful activity. Here are ways I've managed to do that:
- Organize walking events.
- Manage a walking club.
- Choose bad walking partners.
- Train for a marathon walk.
- Get obsessed with a goal such as walking in all 50 states.
But even with those as stressors, the walking itself is the answer. After 15 minutes, my walking buddies can expect that I will be exclaiming about what a wonderful walking day it is.
Photo © Wendy Bumgardner