I’m not sure if you knew it or not, but April 1st (outside of April Fools Day, of course) was National Walking Day?

Yup, you can track each day of the year – fun holidays and special moments – on a “cultural calendar” called nationalday.com.   I think having a day to celebrate walking makes it one of the best days of the year.

Why?

Children and adults alike can gain mood-boosting benefits, brain function, and cognition in a simple 20-minute walk. 

Just getting up off the couch or away from your desk is vital.

So many people overlook this simple daily habit, the effect it can have on your health and managing stress in particular.  

And let’s face it – the stress levels in the middle of a pandemic are at an all-time high. So far, walking outside is still allowed and probably will be – at a social distance, of course – because it’s one fundamentals way to manage stress.

How?

The fear of the unknown has a significant impact on our ability to manage mental and physical stress, and this can show up in our bodies. 

The late neuroscientist Bruce McEwen (1938-2020) coined the term “allostatic load” in the 1960s.*  Allostatic load is the impact that good, transient, and chronic stress has on the body.

Your body works hard to keep you in homeostasis, or a stable, balanced state.

The allostatic load can cause wear and tear on our entire physical and emotional systems because it disrupts the homeostasis state.

The Mayo Clinic has a visual chart that shows the common effects of stress on your body, mood, and behaviour. They include a range, of course, from headaches and sleep problems to anxiety, irritability, overeating and exercising less often.

Maybe you don’t fully understand how to manage stress, and that’s okay. Learning to manage your allostatic load is possible with time and awareness.

How can you “play” your way to boost your body’s response to stress less? 

Here are three ways to improve your body’s happy chemicals while you start building your stress resilience:

  1. A relaxing walk, especially outdoors ? – free, fresh oxygen
  2. Mindfulness practice and meditation ? – “Headspace” is my favourite
  3. Getting some sunshine ☀️- a natural form of vitamin “D.”

These three approaches to stress management are only part of a more significant list, but one of these can get you started today.  

Thanks to days like National Walking Day, you can practice managing your stress and lead a more fulfilling, productive, and healthy life even when it doesn’t feel that way sometimes.

 

*. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/10/science/bruce-s-mcewen-dead.html