Updated: Oct 22, 2022
Walking with your 5 senses
I’m convinced that being out every day walking during maternity leave with my first born did wonders for my mental health. My second born came along just before covid so I couldn’t relish the same joy of going out for long peaceful walks on my own whilst the baby slept. Instead it was quick walks round the block with my eldest in tow as she couldn’t go to nursery. I had postnatal depression the second time around and I think there’s a definite link with me not getting out into nature as much.
Whatever the weather, walking in nature is not only good for your health and fitness, according to lots of studies it has measurable mental health benefits such as:
Lower blood pressure
Sharper thinking and improved concentration
Helps with depression and anxiety
We're so used to walking on auto-pilot and being tuned out to what’s around us. Usually we're caught up in our own thoughts, heads in our phones or deep in conversation that we forget to notice what’s around us and soak up the benefits of nature.
That’s why I wrote this guide.
Mindful walking using your 5 senses
Before you start, take a moment to breathe slowly in, pause and exhale slowly out. Do this a couple of times.
Sight - notice things that you can see
What can you see all around you? Take in the details as you walk. Look at what’s beneath your feet, is it smooth, grass, dirt, uneven ground? Look out as far as the eye can see. What is the scenery like? What colours are there? Look up! Go and take a proper look at something that catches your eye, be it a leaf, a flower or a blade of grass. Really look at it and take in what you can see.
Feel – notice the things that you can feel
Bring your awareness to the things that you’re currently feeling, like the breeze against your face, the texture of nearby objects, or even your hands in your pockets. Find a tree trunk to touch, a pine cone or a leaf. Focus on the feeling in your hand. Is the object smooth, rough, sticky, mossy? Are you brave enough to walk barefoot on the ground?
Hear – notice what you can hear
Try to tune into the sounds of your surroundings. Maybe close your eyes. What can you hear? Maybe birds singing, moving water, the sound of the ground as you walk, the wind in the trees, cars passing. It's amazing what you can hear when you focus in on the sounds.
Smell - what can you smell
Take in a slow deep breath through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Really try to notice all the smells in the air, is there a scent of trees, flowers, earth, wet grass, the perfume of a passer by. Do you find the smells pleasant or not?
Taste – yes taste!
Stick your tongue out and notice what you can taste in this moment. The fresh air, the rain, a sip of a drink, or just the current taste in your mouth. Are there any blackberries or wild garlic around for you to nibble? Be careful not to eat anything poisonous! A couple of foraging books I love if you want to know more are: The Hedgerow Handbook by Adele Nozedar, Food for Free by Richard Mabey and The Hedgerow Apothecary by Christine Iverson.
Give it a try and let me know how you get on.
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