A natural anti-depressent
The great outdoors
Whether you have had a spell of illness, have promised to take more exercise or just want to get out into the sunshine, walking sounds like it's just for you.
Long days at work undertaking the daily grind, never seeing the outside of an office building or shop, going to work and home again in the dark? Does this all sound very familiar?
Especially throughout the winter months it can seem like days since you have seen any sunlight and this can make you feel stressed, anxious and cause mild depression.
There is now strong scientific evidence that getting out in the countryside, walking through hills or dales or just your local park can do wonders for your health. Other benefits include a stronger heart and lungs, increased blood circulation, stronger muscles, increases bone density and helps to reduce weight.
Remember where you walk is important, there is no health benefit from walking around your estate or village if your are beside busy roads with cars, you need to get away from the noise and the pollution and surround yourself with greenery, towering trees and farm animals.
If you work full time and only have weekends to get out and about, that's fine, either take the car, bus or bicycle to your nearest open space and start your walk.
Pack a snack and a cold drink or flask in a back pack and don't forget your rain mack and hat in case the weather changes and wear sensible shoes. You certainly wont enjoy your walk if crippled by blisters from unsuitable walking shoes.
Try not to walk with your head down, hold it high and see your surroundings, they will be beautiful! Speak to strangers as they walk by you, a friendly "hello" will do, and remember to stop and encourage the farm animals to come and see you. It is amazing how calming it can be petting a cow or a horse.
If exercise is new to you start slow and short, don't over do it on the first walk, you will regret it in the morning. Build your walks up a little each time until you are confident in your ability to walk greater distances.
What about asking a friend, family member or your dog to accompany you? Some people find it difficult to undertake any activities alone, as this could be a great way to start.
Breathe in the clean air and take deep breaths to help calm your anxiety or stress, this is your time to relax and see how wonderful the local countryside is. If we're not careful we can find ourselves taking for granted all the beauty that is around us and live day to day worrying about others before taking care of ourselves.
Walking is free!! so is available for everybody, there can be no excuses that money is a barrier.
So before thinking about taking medication for stress and anxiety, try some walking first and see how you find it.
I hope my photographs taken on my travels have inspired you to get out into the great outdoors and hopefully here's to a stress free life.
If you decide to give it a go, let me know how you get on please.