Thriving in the New Normal//

Creative Ways to Get More Out of Your Daily Walks

From calling an old friend to listening to a great podcast, here are little ways to make the most out of your routine strolls.

Alexei_tm/ Shutterstock
Alexei_tm/ Shutterstock

Breaking up the day with a walk can be amazing for our physical and mental well-being, focus and creativity. A simple walk can serve as a stress reliever, a workout, or a chance to give our brains a much-needed reset in the middle of an anxious time. We’ve been making an effort to get in our steps since we’ve been spending more time at home during COVID, and getting creative about our walking time has been a serious game-changer. 

We asked our Thrive community to share the small ways they’ve been getting more out of their walks during this time. Which of these will you try?

Listen to an audio meditation

“Walks have been an absolute lifesaver for me during COVID-19. I live and work alone, so just being out in nature and seeing others from a distance can really do wonders for my soul. One thing I try to do during my walks is to listen to meditations. You’re already in a meditative state while walking on trails you know well, so why not get in a little extra mindfulness? Sometimes breathing fresh air and getting your blood pumping while listening to guided meditations can really help you make a few breakthroughs.”

—Melinda Jackson, publicist, Raleigh, NC

Call a family member

“My regular walks have become the perfect time to call my family. I found out that walking and listening to them really brings me to a peaceful state of mind. Plus, this extra time spent on the phone with them strengthens our family ties. My adorable grandmothers speak about their pasts, sharing feelings and experiences they never talked about before. Their attitude is so impressive. After a chat with them, all obstacles suddenly become such small details.”

—Carole Alberti, director of sales, Milan, Italy

Explore new parts of your neighborhood

“I try to plan walks that go through different local neighborhoods because it’s a great way to see something new on a day-to-day basis and get to know my local area. People are always doing interesting things with their homes and gardens, so it can be really refreshing just seeing what’s around the corner.”

—Hailey Rae Swalley, senior PR manager, Portland, OR

Use it as a way to mark the end of your workday

“I try to do a walk every evening to end my workday and transition into my non-working hours. During my walk, I listen to an encouraging self-development podcast, like ‘Success Made Simple’ by Dr. Dave Martin. I also try to incorporate a few minutes during my walk when I am in silence and simply letting my mind wander. I love that my walks help me set a definitive end to my workday while working from home.”

—Julie Smith, senior marketing specialist, Charlotte, NC

Set mini movement goals

“Going for a morning walk works like a complete stress-buster for me. I’ve been setting mini movement goals, like hitting 7000 steps in forty minutes. Crushing these goals not only gives me a sense of achievement, but also acts as an energy-booster for me.”

—Dr. Febin Mary George, dentist and researcher, Karnataka, India

Listen to an upbeat playlist

“I created a playlist that I listen to. It’s my form of meditation. One of my favorite songs right now is ‘Dynamite’ by BTS. It’s such a happy song, and when I have bad days, I can go on a walk while listening to it, and it really lifts me up.”

—Sheena Yap Chan, self-confidence expert, Toronto, Canada

Reconnect with yourself

“I take walks with myself, at least once a week, and most often, I walk in silence. I don’t listen to anything except my own thoughts.I simply allow the thoughts to come and go. I observe them, I get curious about them, but I keep in mind that no judgement is permitted. In other words, I act as though I am taking a walk with a good friend — but that friend is me. The moments of reconnection with myself are rare in a world full of technology, especially while working from home. These walks with myself have been a lifeline.”

—Becky M., executive coach, Ashburn, VA

Take in your surroundings 

“My walk in nature is always the best part of my day. I’m fortunate that a lovely river walk is nearby, and the nature walk puts me in the most amazing frame of mind to kick off my day. I also take photos, and they become an easy emotional getaway throughout the day if it’s stressful. Meditation has so many benefits and I sincerely believe that when I am communing with nature, I’m in that state of quiet awareness. There’s so much power in getting outside, even if it’s only for a short time.”

—Deb Rosman, author and speaker, Madison, WI 

Connect with your partner

“During the pandemic, I’ve had the opportunity to have many more walks than I did before. I used to walk on my own, but due to us working from home, my husband has joined me on my walks. We have had conversations that were long overdue and conversations about the everyday stuff that we didn’t always get to fully explore. It’s become a meaningful ritual for us to connect at the end of the workday.”

—Yvonne Flynn, personal development coach, Ireland

Take photos of your surroundings

“I love going for photo walks! While they have been especially helpful during these times we’re living in, I’ve actually been photo walking for years. When I’m stuck, stressed or ruminating about something, going for a photo walk pretty much clears the issue and helps me recharge. Taking photos during the walk is not only a way to be creative in the moment, but the camera gives me a reason to slow down, be mindful, and pay attention. It helps me see the world as a beautiful place, no matter what the setting is. I have taken just as many photos of not-so-obvious beauty: cracks in the sidewalks, trash cans and rusted cars, as well as the more obvious beauty: mountains, rivers, sunlight and shadows.”

—Lizzie Larock, photographer and positive-psychology coach, Steamboat Springs, CO

How are you getting more out of your walks? Share with us your tips in the comments.

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