Thursday, 3 December 2020

MIND // Walking to help ease your mind

 How Walking Can Ease Your Mind, Help You Body, And Change How You Exercise.

This year hey, all routine gym classes went out the window at the end of March and it hasn't been quite the same since. Having been able to carry on Zumba lessons via Zoom and taking up a term of Joe Wicks' school PE lessons, September meant a change that I just hadn't seen coming. 
Life with exercise in it is great, it was so easy for me to get to classes, so ingrained in our routine as a family, it just was easy to do. Then lock down came and my whole fitness regime changed. I am pleased though, it led me to an adaptation of fitness which is so much better for my mind and that has changed everything.
I was the girl who danced and loved it, still do, still have Zumba twice weekly but one exercise that has really changed my daily routine is walking. Walking became the way to get the kids out the house this year. It became the only bit of freedom to leave the house and it just started becoming a very normal thing to do. Through the summer I would take the kids on walks to get us out the house with a bit of exercise. Sometimes they biked, sometimes we all tried to run, but what we really did was give ourselves time to just walk, with a purpose of being out and about.
 As the summer ended and I had no job, I started going on a walk for about half and hour after the school drop off to allow me to listen to a podcast I liked. It wasn't until one day when I went to school an hour early to see where a farm track lead to that I really started walking and using it as a form of daily exercise. Now I knew this path was a public footpath but had no idea where it went. After half an hour I made it to a neighbouring village and had a completely transformative experience as I walked the path with a beautiful view. Half hour there, half hour back. I thought, a perfect walk which can fit in with the school run! 
I don't know about you but when driving, time and placement all slot together I feel I am living the dream. No additional driving to a space (better on the environment), can time well with taking the kids to school (just makes the school run an hour longer) and freedom to move as quickly or slowly as I want (nobody pressuring me to be the best or finish quicker with equipment). This walking thing would just be for me!

How my walking became my education space

Quickly I realised that walking 4 - 5 times a week for an hour each time was making me feel great. It didn't cut into my day, I got my heart pumping (I am naturally a fast walker) and I got a bit sweaty. With no 'toing and froing', gym gear wearing, or panicking about booking slots I was exercising and finding time to give to myself.
I started listening to audio books, podcasts, sometimes just belting tunes and had my hour to just go. I found a route in town from my house that was an hour with up and down hills for a bigger work out but found more solitude out in those fields which really helped me think more.
With opportunity to listen to so much I have found that I am being educated. I use this time to try and learn something, to listen to some great speakers, just to grow in anyway I can. With a stunning visual and my headphones on I walk that hour and it feels freeing.

How I learned to make my walking more mindful

Through the topics I was listening to I found a very core teaching in using meditation to open up thinking space. Getting out to nature fit in so well with the greater idea of being more mindful and learning how to live in a more mindful way and I found that suddenly my walks were more than just walks. Sometimes they were therapy sessions and that is why I wanted to write about mindful walking today.

One thing I have discovered this year is that if you don't live presently in all the simple moments of your day, you miss out on one of the biggest experiences you could have, life. Life isn't about big extravagance, it isn't about Instagram worthy houses, it isn't about designer wardrobes, life is so much simpler than that and a good life can be found by living each day as it comes, with no reminding of the negative past or anxiety about the future, each day as it comes.
With walking, I have found time to pause, time to think or time to learn. All of these things have proved to become very valuable to my health and mental well being.

One thing more than any I have noticed is how through this opportunity to exercise, and listen to good, wholesome and life affirming messages (see my recent book list here) I have become to feel more comfortable in my own skin than ever before. 
I feel comfortable, not fat, or frumpy or even suffering with a body imbalance, but I feel good, whole, like I am developing and that changes you.

I am sure the near daily exercise is a big part of it, a daily endorphin dose, sometimes a double dose if I get a Zumba session in too, but that is the only way I can really explain the change. I walk with a purpose to walk well, not with a purpose to exercise and that changes the mentality of the whole experience.

Having gotten into my new routine of walking, a few people I was listening to started talking about mindful walking and looking into it has shown me how all my positive experiences from walking have come to light and I wanted to share how a mindful walk can be achieved.

Mindful Walking

Here is a really interesting article from Positive Psychology which is where I started when looking up what it was. This main thing that can be taken from any kind of practice where you are trying to just calm your thoughts is that all you need to do is be present. Embrace what is around you, what's available in the form of space to move. It doesn't matter if it is in a town or the countryside and let yourself try to shift the thoughts of business and to do lists to a place of seeing exactly what is presently around you. 

In the beginning, be aware of your surroundings, is it a busy street, a quiet path? Regardless, look and see while taking some deep breaths. List what your eye catches to help you focus, bring yourself to be balanced in stance and just view the space.

Start walking, and be just thinking about the walking movement. Move your body, step, feel underfoot. Embrace whatever elements are about, the wind blowing, the warm sun, rain. I love walking in the rain, it is quite liberating as it seems like something you shouldn't be doing. 
Breathe well, be aware of it, your lungs filling, the ability to do that. Be grateful for that, feeling gratitude for the freedom to do this really sits well with more mindful practices.
Embrace what you see, enjoy it for what it is, nature is unbelievable, give yourself opportunity to really see it.

Walk for as long as you feel comfortanble. I have timed myself so I know, when I hit a certain point I have been xx amount of minutes, not feeling like I have to look at my watch helps release the thoughts of "Have to do", and allows me to feel more free. 
Nearing the end of the walk try to think about the journey, think about any positive emotions you might feel, more relieved, relaxed, energised, cold or warm. Think about your body, I am often grateful that my legs worked well, I am able to find walking the fields or in town easy, able to have this sense of freedom. 

Getting out to do it

 If taking a walk was a medicine prescribed for feeling better, we wouldn't need to be taking all the tablets.
It's scarily true how we can feel better for exercise, that doesn't mean it needs to be super energetic, it just means it needs to be good for YOU, personally, an experience which doesn't bring exhaustion and is hard to keep up with, but an activity that brings clarity and calm as well as movement which is so good for you. 

I hope you have found this interesting and can use walking to help get rid of any negative feelings you may be suffering with. I know, for me personally, anxiety has been hard with not knowing what truly is going on, so stepping out really has helped me work on controlling that better.
Read that article linked above, it is really informative and easy to follow and will change the way you take a walk.

My outfit in the pictures was a gift from Joules and I wanted to just link to some of the items that are great for walking in the fields or in town. 


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