How you can incorporate the Five Ways to Wellbeing through walking
A good walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover.
Research carried out by the New Economics Foundation found that there are five ways to wellbeing.
- Be active
- Take notice
- Keep learning
We have given some ideas and suggestions about how you can introduce the five ways to wellbeing into your everyday routine, to help your mental health even more than just exercising.
- Walking outdoors can connect you to your local neighbourhood and gives you the opportunity to engage with other people and the social world around you.
- Use your walk to phone friends or family you don’t live with to check in with them.
- By walking you’re already doing this one so well done! If walking is something you are anxious about, or something you’re not used to doing, start small. Some days just take a quick wander around the block, others a longer leg stretch.
- Most smartphones have apps that track steps and distance, if that interests you, so you can see how far you’ve walked over the week or track your route.
- There are probably many roads that you regularly pass but have never explored. Have you noticed a few footpath signs when walking from A to B and often wondered where they lead. Take some time to explore them and who knows, you might find some lovely little streams and wooded areas that you had no idea existed. These footpaths often have more wildlife and are usually a lot quieter than the roads.
- Living in a city, it may be harder to find places off the beaten track but there will be interesting local facts you can learn. For example, in Bristol, why not look out for the blue plaques.
- Look out for quirky front doors, gardens or window displays, there’s lots you’ve probably never noticed before.
- Take pictures of three things you’ve seen on your walk which have made you smile. You could also think about at least one thing you’ve heard and smelt.
- Importantly, take notice of how going for the walk made you feel. This will be useful in the future when trying to motivate yourself on off days.
- Mind, Headspace and Bupa have some tips and ideas on mindful walking
- A great way to learn about something or someone new is to listen to a podcast or audiobook while walking. There’s so much free content out there to learn about new things.
- How about learning a new language? Think about countries you’d like to visit in the future or a language that a friend or family member speaks that you could learn to impress them.
- We are having to think of new ways of showing kindness with social distancing in mind, but it’s more important now than ever before.
- ‘Nature’ is the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 10-16 May 2021 so you could try and incorporate extra kindness opportunities during this week to help others and make yourself feel good.
- You could go for a walk to deliver some shopping or send a nice letter or gift to a friend or family member.
These are just a few tips but have a think about what you could do. It’s great if you can build some regular walking or outdoor exercise into your routine as we begin to slowly emerge from lockdown, but importantly be kind to yourself. While we can all look for inspiration of what to do, try not to compare yourself to others and do what’s good for you and your circumstances