Do you ever get the blues? Who doesn’t? It’s common for people to feel a bit depressed from time to time. Well, walking is a perfect antidote and has no negative side effects!
Research shows that people prone to depression feel better when they exercise on a regular basis. Why? It’s quite simple. Our bodies affect our minds. Some researchers speculate that exercise may give people a sense of control, of mastering their bodies. Others say that a moderate increase in aerobic capacity generates a significant antidepressant effect. And some research has shown that a brisk 15-minute walk has the same anti-anxiety effect as a mild tranquilizer!
Granted, I’m not saying a brisk walk is the answer to serious or prolonged depression. If you find yourself in that situation, please seek help from your doctor or a counselor. But mild depression may respond quite readily to a brisk step and an improved posture. Here are the eight best ways to help you walk your way to a brighter outlook!
Eight ways to motivate
1. Visualize: The hardest part may be taking that first step from the chair to the door. Take a moment to think about how much better you will feel after you return from a nice brisk walk.
2. Breathe: Before you even head out, begin to relax your body and your mind by taking several deep, slow, belly-expanding breaths. Once you get moving your breath will deepen naturally. Walk briskly but don’t push yourself. No need to get sore or stiff when you’re trying to feel better.
3. Act upbeat: Smile, lift your head, straighten your spine. Imagine that you feel great and then match your body to that imagined mood. Sometimes, as simple as it sounds, when you act happy, you start to feel happy.
4. Have a plan: Designate a specific route and stick to it. If you’re feeling confused or anxious, wandering aimlessly may add to your feelings of hopelessness or anxiety. But if you plot a course and walk it, you’ll know exactly what you accomplished in terms of miles and minutes. Commend yourself for your efforts.
5. Make it melodic: We’ve all experienced the mood-altering power of music. So grab those headphones, stick your favorite cassette into the player and sing along!
6. Make noise: Depression is often the result of unexpressed anger. Walking certainly can help dissipate some of that stored-up emotion, but you can help it along by doing what psychologists call “venting.” Sigh if you feel sad. Growl if you feel angry. Do whatever you need to express your feelings safely.
7. Banish tension: Start with good posture. Correctly position your body by rolling your shoulders back and letting your arms swing freely (don’t force them). Align your ears over your shoulders by pulling your head up and back. When we hang our heads, we put pressure on the neck and upper back, and we signal to the world (and ourselves) that we’re down in the dumps.
8. Find a walking buddy: Sometimes you just need someone to talk to. By sharing your thoughts with a compassionate listener, you begin to work out the issues and even gain new perspective. Find someone who listens well, without feeling the need to give advice, pass judgment or find the answer for you. Be sure to thank your friend for being there!