As highly sensitive people, it’s easy for us to get stuck in our heads. Sometimes we’re unable to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations, which influence us to replay situations over and over in our heads. “Did I say the wrong thing?” “Is she angry with me?” These and other familiar scripts rob us of time and energy. How do we break the cycle and rejuvenate?
Mindful walking is taking a stroll in nature and gently coaching your mind to stay focused on the present moment and your current surroundings. If possible, make this a part of your daily ritual or self-care routine.
- Choose your path. Whether it’s the local park, the beach, or just a few blocks in your neighborhood, choose a path that’s accessible. You can also practice mindful walking in a mall or store, but nothing beats fresh air and sunshine.
- Wear comfortable clothing. Avoid flip flops or shoes with little support. Walking shoes are ideal, and barefoot in the sand can be soothing. Dress appropriately for the weather.
- Give yourself time. You can set aside any amount of time to practice this exercise, but thirty minutes allows you to really enjoy the experience. Wander for fifteen minutes and use the last fifteen to get yourself back.
- Unplug. If you can, put your phone on silent or leave it behind. Sending text messages or checking your social media takes away from the mindfulness practice!
- Go for it! Just start walking. Every time you notice your mind wandering to something that doesn’t involve your immediate surroundings, gently redirect your awareness.
- Let your senses be your guide. Breathe in fresh air. Notice the colors of the leaves, the sky, the grass, and the flowers. Listen to the sound of your feet hitting the ground. Feel the breeze brush against your cheeks. Tie your mind to your senses so you can stay present.
- Don’t give up. Sometimes you’ll notice that you’ve been worrying about something or replaying a conversation in your head. That’s okay! Be compassionate with yourself and kindly bring your mind back to the present moment.
According to the American Heart Association, making a brisk 30-minute walk part of your daily routine can improve blood pressure, reduce risk for conditions such as heart disease, and enhance mental well-being. As for mindfulness practice, the American Psychological Association indicates that it can reduce rumination, emotional reactivity, and stress while improving memory, focus, and cognitive flexibility. You can combine this practice with the Breathing Meditation and Daily Journaling to create a self-care ritual to start or end your day.