Morning Walks

Morning Walks

There are many ways to start your day on the right foot. I have many rituals, so-to-speak, that I do each morning help me get ready to have a wonderful day.

One of the things that I do regularly is take a morning walk.

I must confess that I have a dog, Piper, and because I need to take her outside in the morning, it is easier to keep this morning habit. If you don’t have a dog, maybe you could meet a friend. However, what I like most about my walk is the quiet time I have with myself (and my dog, of course)!

The first thing I notice when I head outdoors is the sense of peace and calm.

It doesn’t matter if it is cold, windy, rainy, or hot. I get to be alone with my thoughts. This “alone” time is essential for me. It is where I get to show up for myself. Most of us have such busy lives that we don’t make time for quiet time. A morning walk lets you experience this peaceful time before you get too busy in other tasks.

A morning walk is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness.

Being mindful is about living in the moment you are presently experiencing. In other words, if you are walking, then you are walking with your mind on walking. It is not the time to talk on the phone or scroll emails or social media. Just be present with walking. Notice the sounds you hear like the crunching of leaves under your feet. What kind of things do you see? Or hear? The more you notice your surroundings, the more mindful you are being.

Doctors recommend a thirty minute walk every day, rain or shine.

A morning walk is a healthy habit to develop. You can make it a vigorous walk to burn extra calories or a casual walk to enjoy nature. Either way, by walking in the morning you are doing something healthy for your body.

A morning walk can also be meditative.

Many apps are available that guide you through a meditation while you are walking. You can focus on your breathing for part of the walk. This will help to clear your mind. Another way to use the walk as a meditation is to think of one thing, maybe a question, a quote, or an affirmation. Then only think about this one thing while you walk for a certain amount of time.

Here is an example of one way to take your walk.

Start with the first five minutes, noticing the sights, sounds, smells around you. Are you holding something? How do you feel? How does your body feel?

The next twenty minutes, focus on breathing and clear your head of other thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking, just release it. Say to yourself, “I don’t need to think about that right now.” To keep your attention on your breathing, you can count. Inhale – one, exhale – two, inhale – three, exhale – four, etc. up to ten. When you reach ten, start over.

If you get tired of counting, you can listen to the sound of your feet. The idea here is to keep your mind clear and stay in the present, focusing on your walk.

The last five minutes, notice your surroundings again. How do you feel? What are your senses telling you? Enjoy this calm and quiet.

Walking in the morning does not have to be complicated.

There are no rules for taking a morning walk. You do not have to DO anything. Just walk. Just breath. Just enjoy the time.

Featured photo by Adrien Tutin on Unsplash.

Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness

I take my dog outside about four times a day. When I bump into someone (usually because they are walking their dog), I have noticed that as we part ways, one of us says, “Stay healthy.” Do you remember anyone saying that phrase before this pandemic?

Right now, more than ever before, people are focused on staying healthy. No one wants to get the coronavirus, so fingers are crossed, masks are on, and hands are washed. This focus on health is to avoid getting sick, but another way to focus on health is to be proactive and take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Here are four areas to consider for attaining a balanced and healthy body and mind.

Eat well.

During this stressful time, many people are joking about eating ten meals a day because of sheltering in place and having nothing to do. We eat when we are bored. If our emotions are becoming a little melancholy, we crave something sweet in order to feel better. We eat when we are emotional. With so much time on our hands, many people are spending more time watching tv or playing video games. We eat when we are in front of the tv.

Just as the events going on around us influence our eating habits, our eating habits influence how we will feel. When we eat healthy, we feel good and generally, have more productive days. This is why it is especially important to eat well during times of stress.

Take a look at your diet and try to eat well each day. Reduce the amount of sugar you eat. Take care of your body so it will be strong and capable of fighting off sickness. Here is a link to another blog post about eating salad every day.

Stay active.

It is fun to be home when it is snowing or raining outside and cuddle up with a blanket, movie, or a good book. It is not fun (even though it is necessary) when we must stay home for seven weeks and counting. This can cause anyone to become a couch potato, but it is important for our mental and physical health to stay active.

Each day focus on staying active by moving. Even though gyms are closed, there are plenty of things we can do at home. Take a walk or jog. Ride a bike. Exercise while watching tv. Do jumping jacks, sit-ups, or push-ups. Use a workout app to give you some motivation. It doesn’t matter how you choose to do it, just stay active every day.

Meditate.

I think the best kept secret of life is meditation. It is a secret because most people have a preconceived idea of what it is so are not inclined to try it. I discovered that meditation is simply a way to clear your mind and sit quietly for ten minutes. Seems simple, but the effects are profound.

Especially now, when our minds could be filled with worry or anxiety, mediation is an essential part of staying healthy. I recommend Headspace but there are other meditation apps available. Now is a great time to try mediation.

Here are some related links about mediation and nature.

Sleep deeply.

Our sleep gets interrupted when we are under stress. We may toss and turn throughout the night and then wake up in the morning feeling more exhausted than when we went to bed. A good night of sleep can do wonders for mental and physical health.

The best tip for sleep (that has helped me) is going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. My body automatically feels tired at the same time each night.

Here is a recent blog post about sleep.

These four areas, eating well, staying active, meditating, and sleeping deeply, will make you stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. Instead of self-medicating with chocolate or wine, Try making better lifestyle choices and take care of yourself during these difficult weeks. Even if you just do a little bit more for yourself each day, your effort will be worth the results.

Take care of you and “stay healthy.”

 

 

Featured photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash.