It all started with a FitBit. This might be the best gift I’ve ever received because it kicked off a self-care practice of taking walks at least four or five days a week.
Initially, the motivation for taking long walks in the morning was to reach 10,000 steps so I would get a star in my FitBit progress tracker for that day. But, as the miles added up, I realized that my long walks were essential to both my physical and mental health.
When I started walking, I didn’t use earbuds because I was taking in the sounds around me. I quickly learned that being alone with my own thoughts made me more anxious because my ‘monkey brain’ would kick in, and my worries would play through my mind on repeat. So, I started listening to music to give my mind a rest. With upbeat music, both my mood and my pace picked up.
Then, I moved on to listening to podcasts, and my walks became deeply motivating and a catalyst for positive change in my life. I listened to podcasts about parenting, blogging, being an entrepreneur and finding happiness. I would come home from my walk spilling over with ideas for things I wanted to do. Often, I would take action on those ideas, and I became happier, more inspired and more in tune with how I wanted to add more meaning to my life.
Check out my happy music and podcast recommendations here.
My walks also give me an opportunity to see my neighborhood with a fresh perspective. I am more mindful about watching for the beauty around me. Often, I snap photos of things that catch my eye. I've learned to appreciate the unique beauty of all four seaons. Those images make me happy in the moment, and they bring my joy when I look back at them.
I’ve learned the hard way that missing too many walks can put me in a bad mood. I need that time and physical activity to keep my perspective. When my life gets busy or stressful, it can be easy to just skip my walk. But, those are the times I need my walks the most. Without that self-care, my productivity decreases and my anxiety increases. So, now, it’s a habit that I make a priority in my life, rain or shine.
Step by step, I’m choosing joy.