A no-cost way to lower stress and improve your mood
Spending a short time outside will make your day better.
This isn’t ground-breaking news. You’ve probably read at least one article title that told you should go outside more, but for whatever reason, you haven’t done it. I was you a few weeks ago. I had been promising myself that I would take more walks to help with anxiety and be more active, but I had come up with all the reasons not to; I’d have to wake up earlier, I’d have to do my makeup, people will think I’m weird, I don’t have the time, etc.
But then one day I just did it. I set my alarm a little earlier, grabbed a coffee from my apartment lounge and just went outside. It was raining, so I spent most of my first walk staring at my feet trying to not get my glasses wet. This is when I decided that Seattle’s no umbrella policy was dumb, but that soapbox is for another day.
Even in the rain, the walk was enjoyable, so I went again the next day, and the next; and after about 4 days I was completely hooked. I started to notice that my mornings were less stressful and how much easier it was for me to focus. Tim Ferris, author of Tribe of Mentors, estimated that about 90% of the hugely successful people he interviewed for the book had some type of mindfulness or meditation practice included in their morning routine.1 Walking pairs the benefits of a mindfulness practice with the benefits of being outdoors which includes reducing stress, high blood pressure, and a whole list of other health issues.2 Walk at the start of your day and you’ve got the triple threat; mindfulness, greenspace, and a morning routine!
Here’s a few tips to help get you started:
Don’t overthink it: You don’t need to plan out your route ahead of time or have a destination in mind. Just go outside and start walking. Walk down streets that look interesting and just turn around when you are ready to go back home.
Leave the headphones at home: Just enjoy the sights and sounds of your neighborhood. Notice the flowers, the bees, and say hi to the people you pass. This last one is a taboo practice in Seattle, but most people seem genuinely happy when I’ve acknowledged their presence with a smile and a simple “good morning.”
Bring a beverage: Whatever you use to help wake you up in the morning, whether it be water, tea, or coffee, take a cup with you. Having a cup of coffee helps give me a little extra boost and shortens the time it takes me for me to ramp up once I sit down to work for the day.
Make a plan. Start tomorrow. I promise you will be so glad you did it.