Have you ever had one of those days when every little stresser culminates and your mind is on overload? Don’t bother raising your hand, we all know the answer.
In a world that moves at increasing speeds, when work demands more and more time, you need to reset. There are a lot of ways that this can be done but I want to talk about the mental and physical health benefits of taking a quiet, orchestrated walk.
One thing that my Mom always told me was when things get out of hand, take a walk. It calms your mind and slows your emotions.
That stayed with me through the years and a good walk daily keeps my mind calm and my body in shape. It has become even more essential since I was diagnosed with a liver disease two years ago.
The first step is choosing a location. Don’t overthink it because that in itself can be stressful. It should be somewhere you won’t be bothered or have to watch out for anyone. I prefer out of the way locations such as the Tolowa Dunes park just outside of town. I can walk a trail where the scenery changes from open meadows, to dense forests and finally the ocean.
Travel as light as you can. The fewer things that you have to worry about, the better. A cell phone is recommended in case of an emergency or if you want to take pictures.
Along the way I let go of all of the thoughts in my mind. If I am able to, I close my eyes at times and I take in every smell and sound. As I am a man of faith, I take this time to inquire and worship.
I make sure that I stop often to hydrate, and just take in my surroundings. All is quiet, not even a bird moves. Your mind will capture the mental photos and you will remember that walk for many years.
Walk slowly, there is no reason to rush. Right now there should be no outside world, only you and what is around you. Take the time to take pictures, you can look back on them and remember this experience.
I like to find a spot where I can sit for a little while and just relax. Don’t move for a few minutes, rest your legs and your mind.
Look for wildlife, so many times you can walk through a nature preserve and see some of the most amazing birds and other animals as they go about their business.
In certain cases you may stumble across different berries, flowers, or mushrooms. Learn what is what. Some berries are edible and very tasty. Others may be poisonous.
Be aware of any rules or limitations where you are walking. If it’s in nature and on protected land there may be laws to be aware of. For example several areas where I live used to be inhabited by the Tolowa tribe. Any cultural artifacts relevant to their past may not be disturbed.
Try to take these walks when you have a good amount of time. Treat them as you would a spa day. This is your time to recollect your thoughts, letting everything else set to the side for just a short time.
Treat your walk back as something of a wind down as you would after a run. You are still relaxing but with the anticipation in mind that the walk is coming to an end. Your focus will return naturally and you will be ready to move on with your day.
If you follow these suggestions in some way, I can promise that you will feel relaxed, more energetic and focused. Speaking of spa days, maybe try ending your evening with a bath or shower, followed by a lavender flavored tea.