by Linda-Ann Stewart
Many years ago, I was devastated when a relationship ended. All I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and escape. I knew that taking a walk would improve my mood, but it was an act of will to get myself prepared. As one sock went on, I thought, “Maybe I’ll just go lie down.” Forcing myself to pull the other sock on, I thought, “Maybe I’ll just go watch TV.” Lacing each shoe brought up other excuses not to go. But I persevered, took a deep breath and pushed myself out the door.
Research on depression has shown that exercise and walking is almost as effective as anti-depressants. Brain chemicals called endorphins release during exercise, and they naturally elevate mood. Studies have also shown that people who exercise have higher self-esteem, a greater sense of competence and internal control over events, and sleep better. It’s been said that if there’s a fountain of youth, it’s exercise.
Half an hour later, I was returning home with a quarter mile to go and decided to check my inner self to determine how I was feeling. Although I was still sad, I was amazed to find that I could now plan ahead. I actually looked forward to getting involved with a project waiting for me at home. My mental outlook had improved by over 80 percent. To me, at the time, that was a miracle.
Even if I feel exhausted after work, walking rejuvenates me. That’s because the tiredness is more mental than physical. Whenever I need to ground myself, clear my head, break through a writer’s block, or ruminate on a problem, I know that taking a walk will help all of those things. I sometimes say affirmations as I stroll. It’s as if the exercise starts stagnated energy moving again. Walking jumpstarts my well being on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. So, anytime you’re feeling sad, angry, blocked, or stuck, try taking a walk. I’ll bet you’ll find that it helps you clear the way for the changes you desire.
My well being is important to me, and I make attending to it a priority. I know that exercise is beneficial on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. Knowing that, I find the time to exercise in the best way for my body. As I walk, deeper levels of my mind are at work finding solutions to whatever challenge I’m facing. If I’m reluctant to take a walk, I remind myself of all the benefits, take control of my own well being, and get my feet moving.