If you have started the day a little flat, here’s a routine to use to feel happier and lead to improving wellbeing. It’s “wellbeing on the run” although its all about walking.
All you need is half an hour. An hour is better but half an hour is all you need to make a difference.
I’m suggesting a half hour ‘purposeful’ walk, thinking only about your walk and what you see and small and hear on your walk.
These are the stages to improving wellbeing.
1. Make something within your control happen
This is your time and it is within your control – you choose the route and what you want to think about. You might choose some music or use Patrick Deehan’s Mindrazr app to do that for you. Make the choice to leave your smart phone behind or at least pledge to yourself that you will use it only as the timekeeper and/or your music source. Do NOT use it to access email, social media or make or take phone calls. Your total control over this process will give you a sense of empowerment.
2. Include a park or sea front in your walk
Just to reaffirm that whilst you are on your walk you should focus on the art of walking and being “in the moment” This is your chance to mediate and clear your mind of clutter. Walking is good physically and also for your mind as the forward momentum gives you a sense of progress. It helps your sleep patterns too.
When I lived in I Tokyo I learned that the Japanese, who are pretty chilled most of the time, passionately believe that walking amongst trees (they call it ‘shinrin-yoku’, or “to take in the forest atmosphere”) is a proven and trusted method of therapy. If you’re not in the bush or can’t find a park in the suburbs or city, find a leafy street. Alternatively, walk along the sea front as water and waves have a similar calming effect as trees and a green canopy.
3. Explore somewhere new
You may have somewhere familiar in mind to walk to and that is okay but exploring somewhere new – some new streets and a new park a few blocks away from your normal haunts will give you a slight sense of elation and excitement. The brain’s happy chemicals of dopamine and opioids will kick in and they will help to reduce your level of anxiety.
4. Give a little
A ‘random act of kindness’ does work. Studies in neuroscience consistently show that doing something for other people makes us happier as a result and more so than doing something for ourselves (although that’s good as well). So, along the way do something for someone else, which may include giving a dollar to a musician or beggar or perhaps talking to a stranger at an intersection.
5. The grand finale – reward yourself
Whilst I have recommended ‘a random act of kindness’ you should be rewarding yourself at the end of your walk with a simple gift – like a cup of tea or a piece of fruit or another minute or two’s reflection. It should be something simple that rounds off your walk to leave you feeling on a high and hopefully more motivated and energised to refocus on the day.
If it works for you then why not make it a routine and walk every day.
For more on the benefits of walking read this post in the Guardian
For more on mental toughness and improving wellbeing contact us.