When’s the last time you went for a stroll? How about by yourself, without your phone or iPod in hand?
The next time you head out to run some errands, meet with a friend or just need a little down time to clear your head, I encourage you to walk. Just walk. No phone, no iPod, and above all, no rush!
Maybe it’s a half hour walk from where you live to the grocery store–resist the urge to drive. Grab your grocery bags and go for a walk. Maybe it’s a forty minute walk to yoga or the gym–get in a little pre-workout warm-up and walk on over. Perhaps you’re meeting a friend for coffee across town–sure, it makes sense to drive in this case (we’ll give you that), but park a little ways away and give yourself some extra time to get in a walk before you get there.
Okay, okay, so now you’re thinking: why on earth would I do that? I barely have enough time to get from A to B as it is! I totally get it, it seems a little strange, but let me tell you why it’s worth it…
You’d be amazed at how much more you notice when you’re walking along without any distractions. In fact, if you’re new to the neighbourhood, or just looking to explore a part of town you’re not super familiar with, this is the way to do it! Without a friend gabbing your ear off, without any music playing in your ear, without concern for the last person who texted you, you begin to take note of your surroundings. A cute little house with a veranda that you’d imagine living in one day, a restaurant you’re never noticed that you want to try, or a little family-run C-store that’s just around the corner for all your impromptu snack needs. Or maybe you just realize that yoga, the grocery store or your neighbourhood pub really are within walking distance!
Going for a stroll sans distractions is also a pretty great opportunity for some reflection and down time. When we’re busy rushing around all the time, it can be refreshing to slow it down and take some time check-in with ourselves.
It’s pretty incredible what kind of inspiration you might find when you’re out for a nice, peaceful walk. New ideas, a new-found sense of calm, or a new perspective of your community are all possibilities.
Truth be told, this all happened to me the other day when, for no real apparent reason, I opted to walk, instead of drive, to go meet a friend for tea (and I just so happened to forget my phone at home). I couldn’t believe how much I noticed! New shops, new stores and restaurants I wanted to try, homes I thought looked cute, the fact that the grocery store really was close enough to walk to and the exciting hustle and bustle of the city at 8pm on a Friday. It was invigorating, intriguing, and eye-opening to say the least!
So, if I may, I’d like to leave you with one particular age-old cliché: “stop and smell the roses”. Take these five words to heart, and make some time to do so every once in a while. Get bundled up, get out on the streets, go for a walk and see where it takes you!
What do you do to be more mindful? How do you destress?
Feature image found on WeHeartIt.