Walking Alone – 4 Surprising Benefits

Feeling like you’re being judged by others, based purely on your group size or lack thereof is quite a common worry.

New gym goers have a similar issue. They assume that the whole gym is going to stop, stare and be solely preoccupied with their ‘flawed’ workout. Ogling eyes watching your every move. Oh, the perceived ridicule!

The fact of the matter is, whether it’s walking, gym or having a coffee, 95% of those who you encounter, DO NOT CARE! The tiny group of people who do care, are really not worth any of your time.

With that being said, let’s cover the benefits of walking alone.

Improved Problem Solving

Sometimes being in your own head 24/7 can cause more issues than it solves, this is especially true when it comes to decision making.

If you’re pondering a project, can’t decide which college course to take or you are generally stuck, sometimes, getting up and just going out can do wonders!

Change your environment.

Chance is that the solution is closer at hand than you thought.

Additional: Going for a walk has many mental and physical benefits, however, it is important to understand that it is not a magic pill. Walking to solve a problem is a start, yes, however, having an actionable plan post walk should be your next step.

Smash Through Creative Blocks

Creative blocks are wonderful, if you’re into banging your head up against a wall.

The more you push, the more your frustration pushes back.

There’s a mushy, hippie-dippie quote that’s particularly relevant to this situation.

Forcing something into view, very rarely produces anything of value; a change of scene and mindset is required.

It helps if you have a seed that’s already sown – the idea or problem.

Now, here’s the anti-social bit. Do not take a friend, family member or your pet dog (if you have one), they will only serve as a distraction.

Then, you just walk.

The goal is to let your subconscious go to town on the issue, while your conscious mind is preoccupied with sights and smells.

Give yourself enough time and space and your creative block may start to move in a more positive direction.

A common pitfall is that many people try to force creativity, unfortunately, this will only make your head-banging situation much worse.

You need to yield to the process, instead of fighting it.

Annihilate your Step Count

Are you number obsessed? Does your pedometer rule your life? Are you beating yourself up for not hitting your 10,000 steps a day goal?

You know, it goes a little like:

Day one is usually fine, day two is okay; day three is starting to grate; day four you’ve misplaced your pedometer, day five you’re pulling yourself apart because you’ve missed your overly ambitious daily step count four days on the trot.

Going from a to b, need not be such a grind.

It’s good to have walking goals, however, when they’re out of touch and overly ambitious, you’re only setting yourself up for a miserable time.

The recommended (UK) daily step count is 10,000 steps a day, however, recent research suggests that 10,000 steps a day is not necessary, the newly revised daily step count of 5,000 steps is all that’s needed for you to stave off the grim reaper.

If you’re a beginner or feel overwhelmed, a realistic number for you to start with should be somewhere in-between these two daily recommendations. The goal could be for you to reach 10,000, but instead of going hell-for-leather, start with a realistic goal of 6-7,000 steps.

Whether you’re using a standalone pedometer or a mobile fitness tracker/app, the aim should be same – to set it, then forget about it.

Help to Soothe Anxiety

Walking not only gets your heart pumping and your pedometer ticking but (more importantly) it can also clear and focus your mind.

To fully maximise this experience it helps to be aware (or mindful) of your environment and situation. So, what does this look like?

When I talk about being ‘mindful’ I’m not referring to the tried and tested practice of mindful meditation, you know, sitting quietly for 5 + minutes and observing your breath. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big supporter of mediation and its positive effects on mental wellbeing, however, in this instance it is not necessary.

Mindful walking is an active meditation type. The aim – to actively observe your environment in the smallest detail.

With practise, this simple routine will help keep you in the present and grounded.

Here’s how it works: As you’re walking (doesn’t matter where), you come across some flowers – do you notice their colour? Do they have a scent? How green are their leaves? Are there any insects crawling around? Can you identify the insects? What colour is the sky? Are there any planes zooming by? Can you hear any traffic, animal sounds or people talking?

If you find your thoughts getting away from you, try to gently bring your attention back to the environment.

Please Note: Like mindful meditation, mindful walking can be extremely frustrating at times. Your thoughts and anxiety may increase, but don’t worry, this is normal.

Stay with the process.

You’re not looking for perfection.

Take Away

Participating in group activities is no-doubt an important part of that wellbeing puzzle. However, another piece to your puzzle and just as important but regularly overlooked is the importance of singular activities.

Being comfortable in one’s own skin takes time and experimentation.

It’s often overwhelming, you may find over time that your anxieties increase, decrease and then level out.

Just keep going!

So, go on, experiment away, you’d be surprised what you might learn!

Disclaimer: This content is not meant to replace advice from a medical professional. If you are struggling, please contact your local healthcare professional.

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