Walking away stress is a good stress management technique. This technique is to do regular daily brisk walks (if possible), ideally in the countryside.
The actual physical movement of walking is one of the things that is good for you here. And if the walk happens in the countryside where there is a lot of nature and a lot of green that is also good for you.
The technique is that walking briskly on a daily basis for between 20 minutes and 60 minutes, ideally in the countryside has a number of health related benefits, including reducing stress and uplifting mood.
The effect is cumulative, although regular daily walking is encouraged when possible. Of course, if the weather is not great, it may be smarter not to go for the walk. In this case, read a book that you enjoy reading. And of course, if you are not fit enough to walk, it would be smarter not to go for the walk. Maybe, in that case, read a book.
I read somewhere that for each ten minutes of brisk walking you do, that can help to keep you in an “upbeat mood” for two hours. So a 40 minute brisk walk would help to keep your mood up for eight hours.
Going for daily brisk walks is a good idea as long as the conditions are suitable. Conditions include being up for it, both physically and mentally as well as the environmental conditions (for example, physical location, weather, suitable clothing, etc).
I wrote this article because I am sure that many people worldwide would find this information useful and applicable.
Let’s get started.
Walking For Stress Reduction – Improve Health And Well-Being
Regardless of who you are, chances are that stress is in your life. Your stress levels may be low or high or somewhere in between, depending on numerous factors. Anyway, you need an easy and reliable way of bringing your stress levels down, you need an easy and reliable way of keeping them down. If you want to reduce your stress levels or keep them down, going for a brisk walk in a park or in the countryside or anywhere safe can do wonders for you. I am going to walk you through why walking for stress reduction can help you to improve your health and well being.
Ideally going for a brisk 20 to 30 minute walk each day in a park or in the countryside will do wonders for you. If you can manage to walk on a regular basis for 60 minutes each day, there are other positive health related side benefits. This effect is cumulative, although regular daily walking is encouraged when possible. Of course, if the weather is not great, it may be smarter not to go for the walk. In this case, read a book that you enjoy reading.
If possible and if you are well enough, aim to get doing some brisk walking every day. Clearly, if you have something like the common cold or the flu or something worst, you probably should not be taking brisk walks and may need professional medical attention. Ensure that you wear sensible and appropriate clothing for the physical environments you are walking in. Ensure that you wear visible clothes, so that you are seen by others. This is especially important when visually is not great and other people may not see you clearly. Cyclists have been known to ride into people that they did not see in time, so take the necessary precautions.
I am going to break this down into four main reasons why walking is so useful in the fight against stress. The first point is that walking is good for health reasons. Here I focus on two main areas that are stress related. The second main point is that ‘breaking a sweat’ when brisk walking out in the sunshine is a natural way to get serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that affects well being. Having a good sense of well being is a great way to manage stress. Then we are going to talk around the extra benefits of walking in natural surroundings. Then the last thing we are going to talk around is the idea that walking and ‘unplugging’ can be done together as an additional layer of stress management.
Walking is good for health reasons
There are a few different types of walking. One is just being outside and walking along slowly, the main idea is that being outside in the fresh air is good for you. This is what I call a ‘non-brisk’ walk, where there is much stopping, and having a good look around you. This is good for you. Even better for you if you are up for it is to take a brisk walk of 10 minutes or more.
My understanding is that for every “10 minutes of brisk walking” you do, that helps to keep your mood up for “2 hours”, which very clearly means that as far as I was concerned that “30 minutes of brisk walking” would help to keep your mood up for “6 hours”.
For instance, 15 minutes of daily brisk walking can help to uplift your mind. This is great as an aid to help you to fight stress, anxiety or depression. When your mood is more uplifted, life is usually better for you, and your body defenses are also better and therefore more capable of fighting off infections and the like.
If you do 40 minutes of walking now and again daily, this can help stress levels. This is partially because the production of the stress hormone, cortisol, is reduced.
Cortisol is produced in the ‘fight or flight or freeze’ stress response. In a nutshell, this is great if you meet a tiger and want to get away fast. Today, this stress response is ‘fired up’ too often and if there is too much cortisol in your system, it can interfere with your sleep and other activities.
This can arise if there is too much stress in your body for an extended period of time, like for example if you were looking after an elderly person for a long time without looking after yourself properly. The stress levels in this case, never really return to a normal low level, and they are elevated most of the time, and the person is “on sentry duty” all of the time, with little or no let-up.
Walking is a natural way to get serotonin
Serotonin is an important chemical in the brain. It also resides elsewhere in the human body however we are in this discussion mainly focused on serotonin in the brain. Having enough serotonin in the brain is important as it helps to maintain an upbeat mood. Having an upbeat mood is important as an aid to help fight off stress, anxiety and depression.
Breaking a sweat by taking a brisk walk is one way to increase serotonin production in the human body. If you can get a 30 minute a day brisk walk or more, that can help to increase your serotonin levels and in the process improve your stress levels, your mood levels and your sense of well being. Doing this will also produce other brain chemicals eg endorphins. This is all good news to help you to manage your stress levels.
If you can walk briskly when there is sunshine, this is a great way to maintain your serotonin on the high level. The brisk walk when you break into a sweat in the sunlight is a great way to increase serotonin. Serotonin helps you to manage your stress. Remember to get the serotonin, you have to break into a sweat.
Walking in natural surroundings helps to reduce stress levels
At least one study showed that study participants who walked in a natural leafy environment were happier afterwards than the study participants who walked near heavy traffic for the same amount of time. Another study showed that walking in a green environment where there is grass, and trees and fallen leaves is better for well being than walking in a town near motorised traffic.
So if you can and if it clearly safe to, try to walk more often in areas that are more leafy, where there is grass, trees and fallen leaves on the ground. Just don’t slip on the fallen leaves though. 🙂
Walking can be an ‘unplugging experience’ if you switch your smartphone off
In this world of ours, it is important to be ‘off the grid’ from time to time so that you get a chance to ‘unplug’ and to unwind. Enjoying your “me only time” is a way to unwind and to relax. Walking briskly is a physical activity and if you are focused on the actual walking experience, it can help you to forget for a short period the problems and issues of the day.
Rather than switching the smart phone off, consider putting the smart phone into silent mode. That way, when you ‘re-plug’ yourself back in, you can catch up on any important missing calls. I have ex-work colleagues who if they are using a company smart phone, that once they are ‘off-duty’ the smart phone is turned off. I agree 100% with this approach, unless of course, you are legally obligated to be contactable when you have the company smart phone.
Going for walks: Make It One of Your “Daily” Activities (when it makes sense)
As you can see, going for regular daily brisk walks has so many benefits that it makes a lot of sense to do as often as practical. You may need to think outside of the box in order to make it a daily activity in your life.
You might opt to add walking to a local shop to buy some bits and pieces instead of driving there and back. If the local shop is a short walk away, it may even be quicker to walk there and back, rather than driving there, finding a place to park, do the shop, and drive back.
You might opt to use public transport to get around, in which case, you will most likely walk as well during those trips.
You might decide during your lunch break, to walk to a local shop to buy a sandwich, then walk to a local park to enjoy your sandwich, eat your sandwich and then walk back to your work place.
As far as I am concerned, anyone that wants to add walking to their daily life can add it to their daily life, assuming of course that they are well enough.
It does of course require some creative thinking. As the benefits of walking are so important, it is important to add walking to your schedule and made it a regular occurrence. If you walk in a brisk manner for over 20 to 30 minutes every day for a few months, you will see the benefits for yourself, and you will then continue the habit.
Enjoy your walks.
Managing Stress by Walking in Nature is a great idea
A great tool to have in your stress management toolkit is the concept of enjoying a walk walking in nature. I have assumed of course, that you are capable of enjoying a walk. If you are in any doubt, you should consult with your doctor.
I have also assumed of course, that you are going to enjoy your walk at a time and place where conditions are not dangerous to your health. For example, you are not going to go for your walk when the weather is not ideal. And if you go in the evening, that you remember to wear clothing that makes you seen by other people.
Health Benefits Of Walking In Nature Includes Managing Stress
Walking in nature is a great habit to do on a daily basis if possible to help you to manage and reduce your stress. Walking in nature has loads of benefits and is easy enough to do. Below is an infographic outlining 20 Health Benefits of walking. Number 15 is the one we are really interested in here. All the other benefits are bonuses.
This may be enough to help you decide to walk on a regular basis, and ideally if possible and if applicable to help you be motivated enough to aim to walk for 60 minutes a day. 🙂
I have assumed of course, that you are capable of enjoying a walk. If you are in any doubt, you should consult with your doctor.
I would suggest that you work up slowly to about 60 minutes a day over time, and if for some reason you miss a day or two, not to stress out about it.
The World Health Organisation recommend that most adults today should be getting in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week and some types of walking can be counted towards this.
Enjoy your walks. 🙂
A very simple and effective managing stress tool
Walking in nature where there is grass, trees, leaves, rivers, lakes and non dangerous wildlife can be of great benefit. I have found that walking in a parkland is more enjoyable and I can walk for longer periods of time than walking outside of nature, for example, on a footpath beside a road. The scenery is more varied and helps to keep the mind occupied on what is actually happening right now, which guess what, means that I am not thinking about what is stressing me.
Walking can be a great unplugging experience
Walking, especially with your smart phone powered off or in silent mode away from the distractions of modern life, especially cars and lorries, is a great way to unplug yourself.
What Hippocrates said about walking many years ago
Walking is man’s best medicine. ― Hippocrates
Begin your walking adventures as soon as possible
I am lucky enough and grateful that I am living within a short driving distance of an old country house with extensive parklands around it, that is open most days to the public, that is great for walking.
The grass, trees, leaves, river, lake and non dangerous wildlife make this environment great. There are many different routes to take when walking. I find that I now know how long various routes take me and decide on the spot which routes to take.
I usually make the decision for how long the walk will be when driving there. I have worked out for me, what are great walks, ranging from 20 minutes, to 30 minutes, to 40 minutes, to 50 minutes, to 60 minutes. I would suggest you research some local places and begin your walking adventures as soon as possible.
Enjoy your walks. 🙂
Check that walking is a good idea for you
- Your doctor is ok with you walking.
- The weather is ok to walk in.
- The walking environment is safe to walk in.
- The walking environment is safe and secure.
- You are well enough to walk.
- You are fit enough to walk.
- You take sensible precautions for your walk.
- You walk for an sensible amount of time taking sensible breaks if and when required.
- You wear bright clothes so that you can be seen by other people (especially by other people operating heavy machinery). Cyclists have been known to ride into people that they did not see in time, so take the necessary precautions.
- If it is getting dark, you have and use a working torch so that you can see where you are going and to allow other people to see you.
- You are not going for a walk in a storm.
- You are not going for a walk if you are physically ill or physically unable to.
- And so on and so forth. You add applicable items to this list where necessary.
Walking has over 20 health related benefits, but if you are not healthy enough to walk, you may damage yourself or if you walk in bad weather it may bring on health related issues, so you need to be sensible. Walk and its over 20 health related benefits are related to the amount of walking, the type of walking and for how long the walk is. I prefer to walk each day, however if it is stormy, I would give it a miss and not worry about it.
If you are healthy enough, fit enough and have not walked in a while, I would suggest that you gradually increase your walking time gradually over time until you are walking for your target length of time. And that your target length of time takes into account your fitness and your health considerations along with other sensible considerations (no sense going for a walk in a storm, no sense going for a walk if you are physically ill), which you should discuss with your health care team. (Check that walking is a good idea for you.)
If you miss a walking session, let it go, and resume your walking practice whenever you are ready to resume and assuming that the conditions are right. Your doctor is ok with you walking, the weather is ok to walk in, the environment is safe to walk in and so on and so forth. (Check that walking is a good idea for you.)
From personal experience, I can say that this technique does work. Why not give it a go and see if it works for you?
This article is part of my Stress Management Techniques series of articles. My Stress Management Techniques article outlines over 20 different techniques. If you want to learn about these, you can read them here.