Need Some Stress Management? It’s Time to Take a Walk

If you’re stressed out, there’s a very good chance you’re a living, breathing human being.

I emphasize the ‘human’ part of the equation because I see my cats and they are so not stressed that they actually sleep for 23 hours a day.

There are all kinds of stress and all kinds of ways to deal with stress, but it doesn’t have to be terribly complicated.

In fact, you have one of the simplest tools there is to get your stress levels down:

Your feet.

And some shoes.

A lot of us walk, some of us walk for exercise and others of us walk because if we don’t, the dog will eat everything in the house…except the cat, of whom the dog is terrified.

Walking has a lot of great benefits, one of the best ones being stress relief.

Walking and Stress Relief

I’ve done some research and here’s what I’ve learned about walking, exercise and stress relief:

  • A 10-minute walk can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Exercise can help your brain cope better with stress
  • Walking can loosen up your muscles – Are your shoulders up around your ears? Yep, you need a walk
  • Walking gets you out of your own head – If you’re an overthinker, walking is the perfect thing for you. It gets you out into the world instead of stuck in the gerbil-wheel of your own thoughts
  • Walking gives you a little me-time – Sometimes when the dog is up my butt and the cat is stalking the dog and the other cat is crying because he gets hungry in between bites and my husband is playing on of his video game on 11, I go for a walk. It helps me not kill anyone
  • Walking lets you work out your problems – As a writer, it’s a constant battle to stay focused and write stuff that doesn’t suck. Walking helps when I’m stuck or even when I just need to solve a problem. Something about the rhythmic movement of your legs sets your mind free and lets you think more clearly
  • Walking makes your dog nicer – It makes your dog tired and a tired dog is a good dog. Nothing works on my cats, though

How to Walk for Stress Relief

  1. Get stressed out – If you need help with that, I want to be you.
  2. Realize you’re stressed out – Signs you’re stressed: You’re grinding your teeth, your neck is tight, your shoulders are stiff and you realize you just yelled at the driver in front of you for coming to a complete stop at a stop sign because you’re in a hurry, dang it.
  3. Take a walk – An outside walk is a great choice, but indoor works just fine if you can’t get out. Walk around the house, the treadmill, the office, the parking lot, the mall, march in place…just walk.
  4. Try to go for at least 10 minutes – The first 5 minutes, your mind will still be obsessing. After that, it starts to calm down and you feel better.
  5. Breathe and pay attention to what’s around you – Maybe you’ll see something pretty. Maybe not. The point is to be in the moment and let your thoughts sort of unravel. It’ll be hard at first, because you’ll end up chewing on some problem – What to make for dinner or that email you forgot to send. But, after a bit, you’ll drift a little and that’s where the relief happens.

Try to do this at least once a day and keep track of your stress walks with this Tracking Chart. It’s very simple – You’ll answer 3 questions: Did I Walk? How long did I walk? Did I feel better after my walk? If you didn’t feel better, you have my permission to email me and yell at me in ALL CAPS.

 

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