This is installment #3 in the self-care bank series. It is probably the lowest risk choice and easiest to implement. I want you to go for a walk.
This very simple strategy and d
When I say go for a walk, I mean just get away from your current environment for even five minutes. You could make an appointment with yourself to take a 30-minute walk over lunch and this would double dip with getting exercise. I won’t discourage you. But in this situation, I want you to channel the impulsive reaction to stress, anxiety, boredom, or a just a plain, bad mood: just get the heck out of there. The flight version of the “flight or fight response” to danger.
Why does it work?
There’s some science behind this. Basically, I see it as the equivalent to counting to ten to keep from losing your “stuff”.
The science behind this also encourages this walking being outside and free of devices/electronic distraction. I will concur on the outside part. However, I do have a couple of indoor loops near my office at MIT that work in a pinch for short time or bad weather. As for no devices, I qualify this to say don’t go out on the walk and then spend your time looking at (insert social media here). For one thing, it increases your chance of tripping and getting hit by a car. More importantly, your brain is in the social media world and not on the walk with you. I admit that I do use my phone to help me change my mood with a good soundtrack. And nothing says, “Leave me be” like those earbuds in your ears.
What does this look like?
This varies for me. I take a walk when:
- An email/encounter at work has set me off and I can’t get my thought train back on track. This walk usually lasts a while and requires headphones and a good soundtrack.
- Teenagers (enough said). This also requires a “leave me be” use of my headphones and a happy soundtrack.
- I’m changing from one task to another at work. I work from home. When I finish up one block of time and need to turn the page in my brain, I usually step outside to wander the yard for a few minutes. I am certain my neighbors wonder what the heck I am doing.
- Data processing (aka work) can be boring at times. Instead of getting on social media while the computer does its thing, I take a step outside. Or I take advantage of working from home and move the laundry to its next stage.
A word of warning
These walks should not lead you to the vending machine, coffee shop, snack bar, or in my case the fridge. Doing so will only allow you to swap your stress for unnecessary calories. And while you’re not yourself when you’re hungry, you’ll have to speed walk for over an hour to burn off that Snickers bar. If you walk anywhere, walk to the “water cooler” because staying hydrated increases our ability
Now that you’ve read this (and thank you for sticking to the end), I would love to hear from you in the comments. I believe that the self-care bank is a “choose your own adventure” endeavor in that it has to be something that works for you. If going out for a walk is not feasible, what is? If you’ve done this, what did it look like for you? Did you notice any difference in how you felt when you returned?