Getting stressed every day because of work… Feeling cooped up and claustrophobic spending too much time at home… Resenting yourself for not having anything to do on the weekends… Does this sound familiar?
If you’re a working member of society, it’s not uncommon to spend weekdays getting up in the morning, going to work, then come home only to watch TV or browse the internet before going to bed. On the weekends, you might wake up a little later than usual, and spend the day lounging around without any real plans.
Continuing to live such unstructured lifestyles poses a risk of losing our sense of well-being, potentially leading to a depressed mentality. In such situations, incorporating a daily walk routine can be an effective method of mental self-care. This article will examine and outline the benefits of daily walks, and how to make it a daily habit.
What is a Routine?
A routine is “a mode of behavior acquired through repeated experiences, readily reproduced in similar situations, and a way of feeling and thinking that prepares for those actions”. In other words, it’s the capability to work on a particular action persistently without strain.
Why Are We Resistant to Routine Changes?
If we’ve never played soccer before, there are many obstacles to overcome before it becomes a part of our routine. We need to first learn the skills, prepare equipment, and find an appropriate playfield. It’s difficult to make a habit of something that requires a certain set of conditions like this.
There are several other factors that make daily routines and habits difficult to stick to.
- Lack of enjoyment
- Having trouble concentrating and getting distracted
- Lack of motivation to continue because there’s no goal or end in sight
- Feeling as if there’s little return for the time and effort you put in
Once any of the above points are felt, most people struggle to continue with their new routine, resulting in failure.
Mental Health Benefits of A Routine Walk
Walking is a great way to get started without the need for equipment or space. It’s an activity that anyone can get into, at any time. The following are the benefits of making daily walks a part of your life.
1. A Change of Pace
Daily walks can serve as a change of pace in your day. According to one study, members of all ages and genders recognize exercise as being fun, helpful in relieving mental stress, and increasing concentration. Try to enjoy the scenery of the walk and avoid looking at your phone during walks. It could lead to new discoveries in your own neighborhood and bring mental clarity to some thoughts.
2. Making Friends
A walk can be a great opportunity to create connections with others. Once daily walks become a habit, you might find people who appear around your route at a similar time. You may end up forming friendships and more acquaintances by saying “hi” along the way. This will raise our spirits and sense of community, creating a positive effect on our mental health.
3. Getting in Shape
Routine walks create confidence. Walking is a form of exercise; inevitably, regular walks will help us get in better shape. As society becomes more convenient giving us fewer excuses to leave the house, it’s much easier to gain weight. This can lead to stress and a decrease in self-confidence. Regular walks can help burn calories, form healthier muscles, and boost self-confidence, all aiding to better health.
How to Make Walking a Habit
Even after we understand the positive benefits, it’s still a challenge to create healthy habits. This is especially true for people who do not already exercise on a regular basis. Here are some tips on how to make walking a habit.
1. Never Push Too Hard
Try to find a “purpose”, but don’t set too many strict “goals.” To form any routine habit, it is important to hold a purpose. The purpose will determine the walking course, speed, and method of walking. A person who wants to experience joy through new discoveries within their neighborhood and interacting with people would have a different kind of walk from someone who wants to get in shape and work on self-confidence.
Be mindful not to set goals that are too specific. For example, committing to goals like setting how many “hours/miles every day” can actually be counterproductive. High goals set from the beginning can lead to high pressure, stress, and failure to form a habit. Start small in setting specific goals. For instance, a goal like, “I will enjoy my walk every day,” is a great simple place to start.
2. Have a Walking Buddy
The best way to make walking a habit is to work on it with a friend. One of the appeals of walking is that we can start on our own right away. However, for some people, walking alone is not enjoyable enough to form a habit.
Try forming a group of friends to walk with or find a walking buddy. When we have someone walk together with us, it becomes a more social habit that’s easier to adapt without a struggle. Additionally, communicating with others while exercising brightens our mood and will excite us towards the next walking session!
Regular Walks for a Healthy Mind
If you are in a mental rut, regular walks are excellent in turning your mental health around. Adaptation of the habit may not be immediate and challenging if we don’t exercise regularly. The key is to have a solid purpose and to work with buddies to make it an enjoyable habit.
Go for a walk today and see if you can make it part of a self-care routine!
Izumi, T. (2001). Application of Behavior Analysis to Lifestyle Improvement: A Study on Habit Formation of Walking Exercise. The Bulletin of the Graduate School of Social and Cultural Studies Nihon University (2), 212-221.
Miyamoto, M. (2016). Mental Health and Life Habits: Lifestyle-Related Diseases as a Mental Dysfunction. Journal of the Japan Academy for Health Behavioral Science, 31(1), 13-21.
Ohara, S., & Matsushita, T. (2015). Research on Habituation and Continuation of Exercise and Sports. Bulletin of Aichi Institute of Technology (50), 58-70.