Walking to help decrease symptoms of Anxiety, Depression and Stress.

Can walking everyday help with mental health issues like anxiety, depression and stress?

I’ve worked with clients who have Anxiety, PTSD and Complex Trauma for 27 years. I’ve trained in DBT, CBT and EMDR which all support safe pleasurable activities, resources and experiences for clients. I encourage ALL of my clients to find an exercise they are willing to do, such as walking, biking, dance or yoga in conjunction with therapy. It’s always wise to check with your doctor first to be sure you are healthy enough to start a new exercise routine. There are many benefits to physical exercise and it’s hard to deny the mind-body connection when we think of overall wellness. You can find published studies on the benefits of exercise as one way to help manage symptoms of Anxiety, Trauma and Depression.

Why does it work? In my opinion, for many reasons. Walking allows you to get out of your head and away from the troubling thoughts for awhile while you move your body. You also get a change of scenery if you leave your home to walk outside or at the gym. You are pleasantly distracted with what you are seeing around you because you need to pay attention to the activity and your surroundings. This present awareness and focus on your environment, whether it’s on a street or trail, is a mindfulness practice. It can feel great to breathe deeply and to notice how your body is moving. A walk engages our five senses by observing and reflecting on the environment (think about looking at the sky, what the air smells like, hearing birdsong or car horns). This can also be an opportunity to socialize if you walk with friends or a group. Even smiling at a stranger passing by forms a brief human connection. If you are craving some alone time as your self-care, listen to music or podcasts while you walk.

It’s a positive habit to consider and you can always start small, walking for a few minutes a few times a week. You may find that you feel better equiped to manage stress and enjoy the experience.