Just Walk Away Stress Benefits how to Mindful Walk
Last updated 05/11/2023
You probably know the benefits of walking well and how good it makes you feel. But have you heard the extra bonus of mindful walking? Just walk away stress!
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What is Walking?
This probably sounds silly, but have you ever thought of it before? Walking is such a habit you may do it on autopilot. That is to say you been doing it all your life, right?
For a person to walk one foot is placed in front of the other and repeated. This is a form of moving or traveling by foot. Further it is your gait or own pace.
Walking has so many words to describe it like:
According to the World Health Organization walking should be included in everyone’s daily activities.
Walking lowers the risk of:
- Coronary heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type II diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Colon and breast cancer
- Hip or vertebral fracture
Just Walk Away Stress What Happens?
When you walk endorphins are released from your brain. These stimulate relaxation and improve your mood. Thus, you feel better.
What are Endorphins?
Endorphins have been described as our “feel good” hormones. These chemicals are naturally produced by your nervous system. Further they are released by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands of the brain.
The endorphins can come from other areas in the body as well. The levels can vary between individuals. In addition, they relieve stress and pain. And you can release more endorphins by walking.
Forest bathing (aka Shinrin-Yoku) was developed in Japan in the 1980s. Shinrin-Yoku requires the setting be natural beauty. It was both a treatment for burn-out technology workers and to encourage the population to reconnect with the many forests. Above all while you’re in nature and utilize all five senses mindfully you gain many health benefits.
- Smell and taste
What is Mindful Walking?
The last time you walked by yourself no matter what location, where was your mind at? Where you on your cell? Could you have been listening to music or a podcast?
I’m usually lost in thought. To have your attention go somewhere else is second nature. We are always trying to multi-task, right?
Every time this happens you move away from the present moment. The chance to make a connection with nature and your surroundings is lost. Above all, you lose sight to just appreciate the ordinary pleasure of walking.
Mindful walking goal: to be consciously aware as you’re moving through your surroundings. Your journey is not about your destination. However, it is the awareness of what is outside and inside you.
Meditating while walking is a way to get the mind on board and focus on relaxing. And if you’re not one to close your eyes to meditate this is another option (I find it easier to quite my mind). Most importantly, it still trains your mind in awareness.
A great way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine is to walk. This has been a meditative technique practiced for thousands of years. There are several forms of Buddhism where walking meditation is practiced. In short, it involves movement and periods of walking between long periods of sitting meditation.
Mindful walking has many benefits:
- Reduce blood pressure
- Decrease heart rate
- Lift your mood
- Help you sleep
- Manage stress
How to Mindful Walk
As it’s called a walking meditation this doesn’t mean you become a zombie. You aren’t walking around with your eyes closed (dangerous). But you are practicing a meditative technique.
This requires your eyes wide open while walking at a comfortable pace. Your attention is drawn to your surroundings whether outside or inside. Further, some do a sitting meditation first in a private space.
After that, they immediately go for a walk with the dog, a partner or alone. This is a great way to take that meditative state along and incorporate mindfulness into any walk. So, walking becomes this method to take in the present moment.
As you begin to slowly walk, acknowledge how your body feels. Are you heavy or light, stiff or relaxed? In conclusion, take a couple seconds to note your posture and how you’re carrying yourself.
Tune into what’s happening around you, other people or other sights in your awareness field. What do you see? For instance, the colors in the flowerbeds or the cars passing.
Note Passing Sounds
Take note of sounds that drift in. What are you hearing maybe a bird singing or lawnmower? To sum up, be aware of what your ears take in.
Direct your attention now to any smells it doesn’t matter if they’re pleasant or not. Your mind can have a habit of wanting to form a story out of a fragrance. That is to say, scents can remind us of someone, a place or occasion.
Reminders don’t think about the observation, just notice, acknowledge and go on.
After a minute or so consider the feeling of movement in your body. How your arms hang or swing by your side. Or how your weight switches from right to left. Further look at your stride your pace the rhythm you’ve become comfortable with.
Focus on This Rhythm
Note your rhythm the soles of your feet as they touch the ground. This is your base of awareness where you can mentally return when your mind wanders off. In short, repeat this as you walk, step by step, block after block, or mile by mile.
These are not rules but guidelines for you to adapt to your walk. You decide where to go and for how long. Thus, you can stop walking anytime you want to.
For Instance, you may take a 10-minute walk and use a street-by-street basis. At the beginning of each block, remind yourself that you intend to walk without any distractions until you reach the end of the block.
Connecting to Your World
The type of approach to walking meditation depends on your location. Likewise, a leisurely stroll in the country differs compared to a faster walk in the city. But this meditative walk can be done anywhere at the pace you choose.
Walking in the City
In the hustle and bustle of any city are many distractions. This is not only from your busy life but the overload on your senses. It’s next to impossible to get any peace and quiet in the city. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be present and observe what’s going on now.
As a result, your mind is more likely to be stimulated in a city. So, there’s more of a reason to tether your mind to the rhythm of your walk.
Observe your gait: Are you speeding along with a million things on your mind? Or maybe strolling while daydreaming?
The more you notice your gait, any sensations, your movement, the more you connect to your body. As you are more connected to your body, the more you can be aware to your world.
Walking in Nature
It’s such a pleasure to take a walk in nature (but not always convenient to do). You are refreshed through connecting with the sights, sounds and scents. Thus, it can turn a simple walk into an enjoyable experience and appreciation for life.
Walking in Your House or Indoors
Sometimes things prevent you from going for a long stroll like the weather or you’re not feeling it. But you can always do a walking meditation inside. It’s just a matter of using your interior space to your advantage.
Walking the length of a room or hallway can be done. This is as long as you can easily go straight for 10 to 20 steps.
Mark your start and end points. Then walk back and forth between these. Take slow, deliberate steps and pay attention to how your body feels. In conclusion, note your movement and draw your attention to the rhythm of your walk each time your mind drifts.
Wrapping it up
You often take walking for granted it is a habit after all. That is to say you been doing it for so long that it is second nature. Further you do it all the time to get from one point to another.
But on occasion just take notice of your surroundings and enjoy. This is a form of meditation with many benefits. Most importantly it relieves stress from your busy life.
Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.