Have you noticed how easy it is to dismiss simple solutions? We assume that any solution, anything that will make things better, must be hard to do. However, there is a simple way to restore peace to your day, to reduce stress and achieve more calm.
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The simplest way to bring peace to your day is to take a walk. But before you dismiss the humble daily walk, (“how can a simple walk possibly make my day better?”), here are five ways a walk will restore your equanimity. Or in other words, here are five reasons to take a walk on a tough day.
1. A Walk Resets Your Body
Time pressure, a long to-do list and tension at work or home invade your body. Stress sends you into fight, flight or freeze mode and you are trapped in a state of urgency. Don’t give in to the sense urgency. Take a walk and override your stress reaction.
Step out for a brief walk and send your body a clear signal: you are not under threat, there is no cause for alarm. You needn’t be ready to fight, flee or freeze. Taking a walk thwarts your automatic panic system. It resets your body to a state of ease.
2. A Walk Resets Your Mind
The cognitive hallmarks of stress may try to follow you on your walk—worry, negativity and circular thinking stick in your mind. Be sure to walk wholeheartedly, without bringing along your work or woes (by talking, texting or browsing on your phone).
Instead, engage your senses to unstick your mind. Notice the sights, sounds and sensations. Observe unwanted thoughts jostle for your attention but don’t engage them, you can return to them later. Stretch your legs and fill your lungs to reduce stress hormones and improve your brain chemistry. You will reset your mind, creating headspace and boosting creativity.
3. A Walk Promotes A Greater Sense Of Control
On a busy or turbulent day, taking a walk is an act of defiance. Instead of letting external pressures throw you into a tailspin stick to your guns and go for a walk. You are no doubt familiar with that out-of-control feeling and how it escalates. You know how it feels to be reactive, lurching in one direction and another. You don’t stop, you don’t eat, you just rush and react.
But to take a walk is to retain a sense of control. It allows you to restore your inner peace and to be sure-footed in the way you respond to a crazy day.
4. A Walk Makes You Feel Better About Yourself
A daily walk is good for your mood, but importantly too, it makes you feel better about yourself. Just as eating your veggies can give you a flush of pride, walking can make you feel righteous, and why not? This can add to the addictive nature of the daily walk. The feeling of mastery, of being more on top of things, is alluring.
You won’t want to give it up—even less so when it trickles through the rest of your day, sparking greater self-confidence. Stick with it and a mindful daily walk will prompt self-compassion, quiet your mind’s critic and achieve a new inner peace.
5. A Walk Fosters Resilience
Think of it. The power of stopping and going for a walk. No matter what. Being aware of pressure but not giving in to it. Feeling the pull of many commitments but setting out for a walk anyway.Not trying to escape or distract yourself, just getting out for your walk regardless.
This is the stuff of acceptance, tolerance and mindfulness. Your walk will make you resilient. Less easily shaken on a crazy day, more quick to recover. Now sadly, It would be easy to just keep struggling—to keep working, rushing or staring at your phone. And granted, maybe this solution seems too simple: a walk takes little time, no money, no equipment. But it works in powerful and complex ways, and is surely worth a try. Won’t you go for a walk, and give peace a chance?