6 Ways Walking Can Help Your Mental Health In 2020
Over the last three month, due to COVID-19, we have all been advised to stay at home to minimise any potential spread of the virus. While many people have been able to work from home during this time, many others have not and the prolonged time indoors has been somewhat of a struggle for those who usually enjoy getting up and getting out to explore. With the worry that the pandemic will have a devastating effect on the nation’s mental health, we wanted to share the importance of keeping as active as you can through the unprecedented year of 2020.
6 Ways Walking Can Help Your Mental Health
Clears Your Mind
Walking is a gentle form of exercise that does not require equipment, skill or an instructor. Even just a short ten minute walk can do wonders on both your physical and mental health.
There may be a million and one thoughts running through your mind during this time and sometimes, being indoors all day can make it tricky to get a sense of clarity. This can develop into stress and worry, and lead to a lack of concentration and the ability to focus in other areas of your life. For example – if you live with children and you’re helping with the current home-schooling, or simply even cooking your dinner in the evening. When you feel like this (and it’s completely normal – we all do from time to time!) simply pop on your walking shoes and take yourself outside for as little as ten to fifteen minutes. Not only will the fresh air help to clear your mind but it allows you genuine, uninterrupted thinking time.
It has been reported that almost a quarter of adults living under lockdown in the UK have felt loneliness. Whether that be down to living on your own, or not seeing your circle of friends or colleagues that you would usually see day to day to day. It can vary from person to person. And it goes without saying that loneliness can have a detrimental effect on your mental health – not having someone to talk through your issues with, not having someone else’s company to enjoy day to day. But walking outdoors is a great way to socialise with a friend or family member, while getting some fresh air for a couple of hours a day! (Just be sure to stay 2m apart in distance.)
When you’re indoors all day, it can be incredibly easy to feel tired at 3pm in the afternoon. A lack of fresh air combined with too much screen-time (television, mobile phone, laptop, etc) is not great for a prolonged period of time. If you are struggling with a lack of routine, try to pencil in a block of time that you dedicate to heading outside. This will give you something to look forward to, not to mention something to plan the rest of your day around.
Improves Your Sleep
Now we all know the importance of a good night’s sleep – right?! When you sleep well, you feel well. That being said, it seems very common that during lockdown, many people have struggled with their sleeping patterns. Whether that be down to not having to set an alarm for work, or feeling restless and bored that it disturbs your sleep, or even taking a nap through the day!
A long walk outdoors can help to get your heartbeat up, the blood flowing and tires the body out.
Tip: Unwind by going for a walk in the early evening – this is brilliant for aiding relaxation and improving the quality AND duration of your sleep through the night.
You Have More Energy
Ever heard of the saying “it’s tiring doing nothing all day”? Well, it’s true! Sitting on the couch all day is great once in a while when you feel like your body needs it, but it’s not great everyday. Moving around gets your blood flowing, not to mention helps to break up what can feel like another boring day. Even if you just walk for 30 minutes, or you take the dog for an hour-long adventure to the park, you will notice that you suddenly have a lot more energy to burn and in turn – you will feel much more positive too!
A Happier You!
A clear mind, the odd ‘hello’ and a good night’s sleep makes the recipe for a happier you! Breathing in the fresh air, finding new trails, learning more about the environment around you will improve your mood and give you something to focus on. The physical exercise is great for your body, can aid a healthy diet and make you feel better overall. Give it a try! There’s so much beauty to see.