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Let's take a Walk

Yesterday marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is "Movement".

Movement is an important part of looking after ourselves. Now before you go and put mountains of pressure on yourself and invest in a fancy gym membership and a new outfit, let me reassure you that movement doesn’t have to be costly or difficult.

Movement is whatever feels right for you.

This could be going for a run or going rock climbing. It might be doing some stretches in your living room or going for a walk. The other thing to remember is that movement is not about achieving particular goals or reaching a certain level of fitness (take the pressure off!). According to Ruth Allen, movement is about finding joyful, nourishing, supportive and caring ways to be in your body (Ruth Allen, 2021). She recommends that you listen to your instincts when it comes to choosing an activity for movement.

One thing that you might like to try to get you started is going for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a long one, even if by just walking around the block you might experience some of the benefits. Walking can be good for your mental health because you are out in the fresh air which helps to blow the cobwebs away. The action of putting one foot in front of the other is a pretty good reminder of how to deal with life when it becomes very difficult – one step, one day, sometimes one hour at a time.

Walking can give you a sense of achievement and can add structure and routine to your day. You might like to go for a walk on your own, giving you time and space to reflect on things or you might want to go with a friend and have a chat.

The other thing about going for a walk is that you’re out in nature (if you live in a city, you might wish to seek out a park or other green spaces) which has been shown to have positive benefits for our mental health, such as lowering your blood pressure, lifting your mood and lowering stress (Emma Mitchell, 2019).

The other thing about being in nature is that nature doesn’t care what you look like, who you are or what your level of fitness is. Nature is non judgmental (Ruth Allen, 2021). This can help us to cultivate a sense of self acceptance and self compassion. Looking at what is around you, the trees, flowers, insects and feeling the sun or rain or wind on your skin can provide you with a sensory experience which might give you a break from worrying about work or other things in your life (Emma Mitchell, 2019).

Moving our bodies is important because we often hold on to emotions within our bodies. If you’re feeling very stressed for example, you might hold a lot of tension in your body. If you’re struggling with depression, you might feel bone tired and have little energy. Often people experience burnout when they haven’t paid very much attention to what their body is telling them - if that’s you, please don’t worry - we’re all guilty of doing that.

Our bodies want to be heard and being in nature can help us to regulate our feelings because being in the natural world helps to soothe our nervous system (Ruth Allen, 2021).

Going for a walk can also help us feel grounded and it is an easy way to improve our sense of well being (Ruth Allen, 2021).

There is no doubt that movement and being in nature is good for us, not just for our bodies but also for our minds. Whatever activity you choose, remember to start small and don’t put pressure on yourself.

Ruth Allen recommends a “tiny green break” that you can incorporate in your day, for example going for a walk or visiting a park in your lunch break (Ruth Allen, 2021). If you work from home and have a garden, you might like to have your morning coffee break in your garden to soak up some daylight and listen to the birds.

Perhaps most importantly though is that this week is a reminder that your mental health is important, so please don’t take it for granted.

walking boots on sand with stones


Allen, Ruth (2021). Grounded, Pages 40-41, 57, 60-66, 70-77

Mitchell, Emma (2019). May, The Wild Remedy, Pages 122-127

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