1, 2, ….. 10,000! A wander into nature!

Time is finite. Energy is renewable. It is a favourite saying of mine and I think reflects how alot of us feel sometimes that time is up against us. Overlay to this a push to achieve the magic 10,000 steps. I mean surely that’s not achievable each day!! 

“I’m too busy”. “I don’t have time to take a break or go for a walk”. These are easy assumptions to make. We work in roles which can easily fill a full working day (and then some) if we let it. If you are heading to the office or working from home you still need to find the time to take a break. Create a clear divide between the working world and home life. 

At the start of lockdown I found it easier to take a break for a walk. Everyone felt in the same boat (and the weather was pretty decent) and with this new novel working from home why not take advantage and go and explore the local surroundings. I have found it more difficult since the world normalised a little (and darker evenings came in). I need motivation and it’s easy to find an excuse – a call, a file to review or children activities. 

Yes I live in the countryside so nature is on the doorstep BUT I’ve found ways to take a walk in the heart of cities with a splash of green colour in them! The Leeds canal has a great path you can take out towards Kirkstall and in Sheffield there is the Weirs Walk. 

A meditative sauntering into my soul is how I would like to describe my walks. They vary. Some are early mornings before the world wakes and before the harshness of the day hits. It may be a lunchtime stroll when the sun is at its highest (on those rare occasions) reflecting on what you’ve done (and what’s left to achieve). Or maybe it’s the end of the day. The sun setting on the horizon. A new way to separate the working day from home life. A walk can take many forms for us all. At the moment it involves a lot of sheep hunting as they seem to wander off!

It’s always fascinating to see how quickly your steps build up across the day – but takes a big leap even with 30 minutes wandering outside. 

There are benefits to our health, both physical and mental. 

  • Physically you carry your own body weight on a walk and as a result benefit from increased cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness, stronger bones & balance and increased endurance; and
  • A good walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing but it’s not just about the occasional one-off feel good factor. Being active has a whole range of benefits when it comes to mental wellbeing. It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover. In older people, staying active can improve cognitive function, memory, attention and processing speed, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

We can link nature and walking quite easily. The advice for people looking to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and maybe even improve your memory is to take a walk in the woods. Time spent in nature helps. Calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response. The visual aspects of nature can also have a soothing effect helping distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry.

Plan to cover a set distance each day and monitor how long it takes you to walk this distance. As your fitness improves, you will be able to walk a longer distance and use more energy.

So with their twists and turns, ups and downs, the long road takes us into a place that looks far away from human civilisation and into a world where we can reflect, relax and soak in the atmosphere. So I encourage us all to find time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors whether in a City or out in the suburbs. 

We should also not forget that what matters more is that there are 51 weeks until Mental Health Awareness Week 2022. Walking your talk in those weeks is how people around you really trust that you mean it. And know deep down that they really can look after their #mentalhealth and #wellbeing – all the time. Work out one thing you can commit to feasibly doing every week and start to #walkthetalk 

 

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