4 min read
Walk Your Way to Gratitude: Unlock the Benefits of Moving & Thanking
Written by: Anne Bach Krog Iversen, Chief DNA & Culture Officer - TimeXtender - October 16, 2023
Hey there! We all know walking is a quick ticket to better health. It lifts your mood, clears your mind, and even tones your muscles. But what if you could get even more from your daily walks? All you need to do is add a little gratitude.
In this blog, we'll dig into why mixing gratitude and walking is a win-win for your well-being. From mood boosts to a sharper focus, we’ll show you why this simple practice is your new go-to. So, stick around and get ready to take your walks from "meh" to "amazing!"
Let’s dive into how practicing gratitude can boost your mental health.
YOUR MOOD & SELF ESTEEM
First off, gratitude can make you happier. When you focus on the good stuff, your brain releases dopamine - the "feel-good" hormone that lifts your spirits. Gratitude also helps you feel better about yourself. When you're thankful for what you have, you're less likely to compare yourself to others. And hey, that can give your self-esteem a real boost.
Feeling stressed or anxious? Gratitude can help. It shifts your attention away from what's bothering you and places it on what's going well. That change in focus can dial down stress levels.
Sometimes it can feel hard to step away when we’re feeling especially stressed. Maybe a deadline has you pulling out your hair, or you can’t seem to catch a break with your stubborn teenager. During times like these, taking a walk and practicing positivity to get your mind off things can help and is really worth the time to do it.
BUILDING RESILIENCE & FOCUS
Life's tough sometimes. Gratitude helps you bounce back faster from challenges and setbacks. It gives you a more balanced view of the world, making it easier to cope with hard times. When you're not weighed down by worries, it's easier to concentrate. Gratitude clears away mental clutter, helping you focus on the tasks at hand.
Gratitude is a mental health powerhouse. A few minutes each day can lead to big benefits. Why not give it a shot?
How-To: Simple Ways to Add Gratitude to Your Walk
Begin your walk like you normally would. After a few minutes, think of one thing you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be big. Even being thankful for the fact that you were able to find the time to get out and take a walk today counts.
Having a hard time thinking about something right away? Look around you. If you are in nature, it might be gratitude for finding your favorite quiet spot outside of town. Are you in the city? You can be grateful for the evenly paved sidewalks, or in contrast, the character and history of old crooked cobblestones beneath your feet.
When you think about that initial thing you're grateful for, don’t move away from that thought right away. Think about how it makes you feel. Notice what’s happening in your body when you are thinking about it. Do you feel a little warmer? Has a smile formed? You may be surprised by what you feel physically with one simple and positive thought.
THE WHY GAME
Now that you have a little practice under your belt, it is time to dig a little deeper. As you walk, don't just list things you're grateful for. Think about why they make you happy. Got a job? Great. But why are you grateful for it? Steady income, meeting cool people, or maybe it allows you to be creative every day — dive into the details.
Challenge yourself and ask yourself “why” five times in a row after starting with a single item. This is a super cool exercise, and it’s not as easy as it sounds!
Think about what you are thankful for in rhythm with your steps. With your right foot, “family.” Left foot, “comfy shoes.” Right foot, “bacon for breakfast.” Left foot, “a reliable car.” It is like adding a little music for your soul.
Try saying them out loud as you walk. It might feel weird at first, but saying what you're grateful for adds oomph. You can keep it low if you’re in a crowd. Or just mouth the words. Trust me, it adds a whole new level of “real.”
LOOK HOW FAR YOU'VE COME!
Sometimes the easiest way to find things we’re grateful for is to look back to a time when things weren’t so great – even if that was yesterday. Remember how difficult that time was and celebrate how far you’ve come.
Create that contrast in your mind of how you were feeling during that time and how you feel about it now. And be proud of yourself! (Most of us don’t do that enough.)
COME TO YOUR SENESES
Let’s face it, some days, gratitude can be harder to find because life happens. In times like this, it can be helpful to turn off your thinking and rely on your senses instead.
What around can you see, hear, feel, touch, or smell that can bring you a sense of peace? Let the smell and sight of the autumn leaves falling remind you that there can be beauty in letting go. Hear the buzz of the city and take a moment to be grateful for the simple fact that you can hear it. Even that annoying taxi - does he really think all that honking will make traffic move faster?
BONUS: A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
When you get back from your walk, think about starting a simple gratitude journal. You can write down just one thing you thought about on your walk. Writing it down will help you remember and give you an extra positivity boost in your brain, and it will turn into a journal that may help you get through some tougher times ahead. We all know there will be some!
Your Challenge: One Week of Grateful Walking
Here’s your task. For the next seven days, take a 15-minute walk every day. Use at least half of that time to practice gratitude. By the end of the week, you’ll see a change. You’ll feel lighter, happier, and more centered. And hey, who doesn’t want that? So, let’s do this. One week. Fifteen minutes a day. It’s a small step, but it can lead to big changes.
Now, lace up those comfy shoes you’re so thankful for and hit the road!