Updated: Dec 6, 2021
Walking as Self-Care and Social Connection
We're halfway through February, and while you're reflecting on how fast 2021 is already going, experiencing the mid-winter blahs, or dreaming about life after the pandemic, there's a good chance you're also managing the stress of multiple obligations. This month's banner holiday offers a timely reminder to cultivate love where life feels hard right now. On Valentine's Day, plant the seeds of loving self-care by making a plan to move and connect in the week ahead using these three strategies: a fake commute, a walking reward, or a joyful delivery.
Take a fake commute Does working from home feel like one never-ending continuum from meals to Zoom to bed and back? As the landscapes of our lives have shifted with the pandemic over the past year, more than half of American workers have been working from home at least half time. Many are also managing children's remote learning and other household tasks, with working moms stretched especially thin. One way to create some space between home life and work hours is to get outside and walk or roll for the same amount of time you used to commute. Taking a "fake commute" brings all of the physical and mental health benefits of a good walk, with the added bonus of setting aside time to think, learn, and connect with yourself before starting your work day. It doesn't have to be long: just stepping outside after breakfast and walking once around your block can help shift your mindset into a calmer, more productive gear. Try listening to a walking meditation or an inspiring podcast, and take different routes to circle back with a fresh perspective. Even those of us who have worked from home for years benefit from creating a fake commute. I've found that setting aside 30 minutes to an hour in the morning to get outside, breathe in fresh air, listen to the birds, take in the sunrise, and stretch my body helps me arrive back at my desk with more optimism and confidence. Read this article on the CNN Business website for more tips for creating your own fake commute. Give yourself a walking reward Whether you're working from home, going into work, or enjoying your own schedule these days, celebrate small successes by taking a short, brisk walk or just getting outside. We weren't made to sit at a desk or stay inside all day, of course - our ancestors moved naturally throughout the day, lifting heavy objects, bending down, climbing hills - but most of us do, and now, with so many of our routines interrupted, we don't even walk to the bus stop or climb the stairs to offices anymore. We know it's best to stay active all day long, but it can feel daunting to stop and do squats or push-ups every 45 minutes like this guy did. Instead, when I'm working on a tough task, I always reward myself for periods of concentration with short walks outdoors. About every hour, I'll get up, stretch, and walk around the block, which has the added benefit of helping me think more clearly when I return. I long for the old days when I worked in a complex that inspired natural movement: the cafeteria was a good 15-minute walk from my office, and we were constantly roaming around for meetings all over the place. Now on my own at home, I make walking my special treat for staying on task. It's healthier than chocolate! Plus, new apps like Sweatcoin actually pay you for walking. Get points for your steps to put toward purchases, or donate them to charity. It's a win-win!
Make a joyful delivery With Valentine's Day approaching, why not walk some sweet gifts to your friends and neighbors? Put together simple notes and small bags of wrapped goodies, then set out to share the love, leaving the bundles by front doors. Better yet, arrange a one-on-one or small-group walk with neighbors to reconnect and share time together. Check out this article for a great list of 28 ways to show loving kindness to your community, no matter where you live. Delivering joy to someone nearby can help heal the loneliness many are feeling right now, especially older adults. For those who aren't able to get out and walk, show you care by sharing a phone call while standing outside their home, waving and saying hello while walking by, or leaving sweet notes or sidewalk chalk drawings. Bringing some light and love to the mid-winter season is what Valentine's Day is all about, and what better way to show yourself and others you care than by moving for health and happiness? What other ways do you walk for self-care and social connection? I'd love to hear your strategies for active lovingkindness and showing your love of Life@3MPH! -Darcy Kitching Walk2Connect Movement-Building Owner, Boulder, Colorado