5 ways walking can improve your mental health

Walking is beneficial for the body and mind. It makes us less depressed, less angry, more energized, more mindful, and even gives us better sleep.

Many people have been experiencing burnout for the past year and a half, and the mental health effects are starting to catch up. I’ve been hearing from many Savvy Psychologist listeners about experiencing poor sleep, having short fuses, feeling exhausted but also bored at the same time.

Walking makes you less angry

Notice your feet. Now that you’ve settled into your breath, let’s expand our attention to the feet. No need to move any faster or slower, or change their movement in any way. Simply notice the ground underneath your feet. Notice any sensations on the skin, in your arches, on your toes.

Walking makes you less depressed

Notice your legs and hips. Now let’s move our attention up to our legs and hips. Notice the sensations in your muscles and joints as they move. Notice any aches or pressures or itches. A yoga teacher once told me that we hold much of our stress in our hips. Notice if this is true for you.

Walking makes you less tired

Notice your upper body. Now that you’re probably settled into a steady walking pace, let’s expand our attention to the rest of our bodies. Notice any sensations in your body with curiosity. Follow along with the rhythmic movements of your torso as you walk and breathe. Notice the way your muscles move (or don’t) in your shoulders and neck.

Walking helps you tap into the positive spiral of mindfulness

Notice your surroundings. As we keep walking, let’s expand our attention to our surroundings. Take a moment to notice one thing you can see with your eyes – something you hadn’t noticed before. Now see if you can notice one sound you weren’t paying attention to.

Walking is good for sleep

Notice your emotions. As we finish walking together, now fully grounded in our bodies and surroundings, let’s expand our attention one more time. This time, let’s notice our emotions. Where to look? Notice sensations in your chest and belly. Wiggle your face and see where the tensions are, if there are any. Breathe into those sensations.