By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Managing your stress and anxiety is important for long-term health and wellness. Healthy stress management improves resiliency, especially when times are tough, but it can be tricky to put into practice. There are a lot of pressures in everyday life that demand attention so taking care of your own mental health can feel difficult to prioritize. The very pressure to manage your stress can be stressful itself, but finding healthy ways to cope with stress is good for your mind and body. Reducing your stress also reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease and supports healthy immune system functioning.
If thinking about stress management is at all overwhelming and you just want somewhere to start, there’s a simple solution: Go for a walk.
Walking is easy and you already know how to do it. Other common methods of stress-relief like yoga and meditation take skill and practice, but anyone can go for a walk. It gives you time to yourself away from the usual distractions and is a low-impact aerobic exercise. If you’re new to tackling your stress and feeling overwhelmed at all, walking is effective and can quickly become part of your daily routine. It’s low-stress stress relief for beginners!
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your wellness walk:
- Walk outside. Being outside among nature is good for your, mental-wellbeing, particularly if you live in a city.
- Walk for at least 20-30 minutes. If you’re not sure how to plan a walking route, just pick a direction and walk for 10-15 minutes, then turn around and walk back.
- Take deep calming breaths while you walk. Breathe in for 5 seconds while expanding your whole chest, then exhale slowly.
- It is safe to walk outside without a mask, provided you are more than 6 feet from the nearest person. Take a mask with you anyway, for safety.
- Use this time to take a break from the news and social media. Focus only on enjoying the moment.
CDC. Mental health and coping during covid-19. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
Hunter, M. R., Gillespie, B. W., & Chen, S. Y. (2019). Urban nature experiences reduce stress in the context of daily life based on salivary biomarkers. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00722