Most of us do not spend much time thinking about going for a walk. Despite the joy and wonder that accompany a baby’s first steps, fairly soon the trick of wandering around on our own two feet becomes commonplace.
In fact, when we do think about walking, we are often looking for ways to do less of it. We look for the parking spot closest to our destination. We take the elevator instead of the stairs. We drive short, walkable distances because it just seems easier and quicker to do so (even though that often isn’t actually the case).
We would like to suggest flipping that mindset around. Instead of looking for fewer occasions to walk, we should all be looking for more.
Let’s look at the ways in which a commitment to regular walking can provide a boost to your mental well-being.
Two Important Notes Before the First Step
Before we go any further, we want to acknowledge here that not everyone is able to walk without difficulty or at all. Being mindful of this fact is important because it helps us all work together to create more accessible spaces and more alternatives for those who need assistance and support. Looking for ways to be of service to others is a great way to do good in the world while also supporting your mental health.
We also want to note that the following advice about the benefits of exercise and getting outdoors applies to most anyone who is seeking to improve their mental health. The specifics below may not work for everyone, but the concepts behind them may be helpful nonetheless.
Why Is Walking Good for Your Mental Health?
Your physical and mental health are intertwined. Because walking is good for your physical health it is also good for your mental health. But beyond the value of the exercise itself, walking also gives you the opportunity to clear your mind for a few moments, allows you to take in the beauty around you that you might otherwise fail to notice, and provides opportunities to interact with others—even if just with a smile as you pass one another—in positive ways.
You could also think of walking as a kind of metaphor for the mental health journey. A person who is dealing with a mental health disorder like depression, anxiety, or a disorder stemming from trauma is on a journey toward improved well-being. That journey happens one step at a time—just like your walk around the neighborhood.
Let’s Get Walking
We have already identified a few ways you can quickly and easily add some additional steps to your day. You could park a little farther away from your destination. You could take the stairs instead of the elevator. You could walk to the neighborhood coffee shop instead of driving.
Other similar additions might include walking the dog an extra block or two (heck, getting a dog so that you will walk more is just one of many benefits a pet can provide for your mental health—though of course getting a pet is not a decision to make lightly) or walking down the hall to talk with a co-worker rather than sending an email or instant message. You might even consider turning a recurring meeting into a walking meeting—a switch that can improve productivity, creativity, and your health.
Making those sorts of changes to your routines can, in fact, add up. Still and all, it can also be an excellent idea to build a daily walk (or two) into your routine. That is especially true if you are just trying to get started with an exercise program. A couple of 10-minute walks each day is a great place to start.
You could take those walks on a treadmill at home or at the gym. Or you could find an indoor track at your local YMCA or similar facility. Either is a fine choice, but we would encourage you to walk outdoors when time and weather permit. Getting outside and into the sunlight provides a boost to your mental well-being, so walking outdoors is a great way to exercise.
Johnstown Heights Can Help Put a Spring Back in Your Step
A mental health disorder can make you feel as if you are walking through molasses each and every day. Everything just seems harder than it should, and it can start to feel as though it just is too difficult to keep going. If you are feeling this way, point your feet in the direction of Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health in Colorado. We can help you start to feel better and less like you are in danger of being permanently stuck.
At Johnstown Heights, we provide personalized treatment grounded in compassion, expertise, and experience. We will help you navigate the path to better mental health. When you are ready to start the journey, we are ready to point the way forward.