Are Daily Walks Good for My Mental Health?

Are Daily Walks Good for My Mental Health?

Everyone wants to experience positive mental health. We will all go through times when we are feeling great and times when we are feeling low. Sometimes we may not even realize that we are slipping into a negative head space until things get really bad. 

Warning Signs to Look For

It can be helpful to incorporate time into our daily routines to check in with ourselves and evaluate how we are feeling. In particular, there are some early warning signs that we can be aware of so that we can take preventative measures to bolster our mental health, such as:

  • Mental confusion or being unable to concentrate, which is often described as a mental fog
  • Feeling sad or down without a known cause 
  • Overwhelming feelings of fear, worry, or anxiety
  • Changes in sleep habits, including feeling constantly low energy
  • Withdrawing from people or activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Experiencing extreme mood swings bouncing from very happy to very low

Making Positive Changes for Your Mental Health

If you are taking time to check in with yourself through self-awareness or journaling exercises, you might notice that you could benefit from making some changes. It may be hard to decide what areas need improvement or where to start making those improvements. While there are many treatment options available to get you back on the right track, one simple activity has been proven to positively impact your overall well-being: taking a walk outside! 

Exercising and experiencing nature both have a positive influence on physical and mental health.

Benefits of Exercise 

The mental health benefits of physical activity are numerous and plentiful. Exercise has been shown to be effective in reducing mild to moderate depression symptoms. You can relieve tension and stress that can build up in your body by getting up and moving. The release of endorphins that comes from exercising can also help you improve your mood and boost your sense of well-being. 

Exercising regularly has been shown to improve your cognitive abilities. You will find your ability to concentrate increases. Problem-solving and your ability to complete tasks will also be improved. Memory can also be improved with daily exercise. Getting regular exercise will also help you regulate your emotions and have better self-control.

Benefits of Nature

Human beings are wired to thrive outside in nature. The benefits of being outside are similar to the benefits of exercising. By exposing yourself to an outdoor space — preferably with grass, trees, or other plants — you will improve your mental capacities. 

Your ability to focus and get things done will increase. Being in a natural space can also reduce your stress levels and improve your mood. Studies have also shown that experiencing nature can increase your ability to empathize and cooperate with other people. Being in nature on a regular basis has even been shown to reduce your risk of psychiatric disorders.

The sights, smells, and connection to the natural world can contribute to your overall happiness. Nature can help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. It will also increase your inclination to be kind to those around you. Being in nature helps us remember that we are connected to something bigger than ourselves. This feeling of being connected to the world around us will increase your sense of self and purpose.

Maximizing Benefits of Regular Walks

If you want to try adding something to your daily routine to support positive mental health, you might as well get the most benefit out of what you are doing. Combining exercise and nature is a great way to get a variety of benefits. Spending any amount of time outside has been shown to improve your mental health. But if you want to make sure you are getting the most out of your efforts, there are a few things you can do.

You will see the most improvement if you can make your walks outside a regular part of your life. Find a place that is convenient and close to somewhere you are already spending time, like your home or your workplace. The less effort it takes to get to a park or a hiking trail, the more likely you will be to stick with it. Start with small, easily achieved goals, such as a 10-minute walk a few times per week.

There are many mental health benefits to making time for social connections. Humans are social creatures, and we thrive when we have meaningful relationships. You can maximize the benefits of daily walks by inviting a friend or a co-worker to go along with you. You can strengthen your relationships and spend time in nature while increasing your physical activity all at the same time. 

Being mindful and self-aware is a great way to boost mental health. This can be applied to walking outside as well. Make sure you are staying in the moment. Try to engage all of your senses while you are in nature. Pay attention to the things you are seeing. Take time to notice the things you can smell. Stop to feel the different textures in the environment around you. Close your eyes and see how many different things you can hear. All of these actions will have a positive influence on your mental health.  

No matter what stage of life you are in, it is vital to develop strategies that will keep your mental health strong and positive. Whether you are considering adding more exercise to your daily routine or need some extra support from a mental health professional, Alter Wellness Care is here for you. Our caring and compassionate team of professionals will work with you to develop a plan tailored to your unique needs. We strive to show kindness and understanding to every person that we work with and look forward to helping you too. For more information on how to improve your mental health, call Alter Wellness Care today at (866) 311-3510.

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