Path To Happiness
Updated: Oct 18, 2018
Fewer things give me greater pleasure than a walk. On my own or with someone else, both are equally good depending on my mood - it's a nice way to feel close to one another and a little more open (perhaps a bit like how the car is a popular setting for difficult conversations..?)
My enjoyment of walking is to the great bemusement of my family because I hated walks as a tween/teenager. I couldn't think of anything worse and I did, on multiple occasions, refuse to get out of the car for such an activity (I'm not proud).
I am very glad that I eventually saw the light as I find walking to have such a massive impact on my mood. Even just nipping out quickly to break the day up and I feel that my mood lifts virtually instantaneously.
I'm almost loathed to quote some research on this because if it makes you feel better you should do it, you don't need an article to back this up. Having said this, it is interesting to read some of the studies out there which demonstrate the benefits in exposing ourselves to nature (ie. it's not just some airy fairy hippy idealism).
An interesting study from 2018 demonstrated reductions in both physiological and psychological markers of stress after being exposed to nature (e.g. cortisol levels and reported stress/worry). Varying degrees of nature exposure were compared in this study and whilst a woodland setting did result in the greatest stress reductions, each setting was shown to have some benefit (including a town park and indoor exercise centre).
I would encourage everyone to get out in nature a bit more - even buying a plant or two to have at home can help if you live in a city with limited green space.
I would also encourage everyone to find what works for you. Walking is good for me and my mood, but equally if having a long bath or listening to a podcast is what makes you feel good then you should prioritise this.
With it being world mental health day yesterday there's a bit of a buzz around this topic at the moment. Take this opportunity to work out how you are going to practice self-care and encourage others to do so too.
Ewert, A. & Chang, Y. (2018). 'Levels of Nature and Stress Response', Behavioral Sciences, 8(5).