Change your mood – go outside

May is national walking month. Normally this month we would be encouraging you to do things like walk to work or school, but that hasn’t been possible for many of us due to Covid-19. We are fortunate in the UK that we can get outside to exercise, how are you using that time?

Move and connect

It has been proven that by moving we connect with our bodies more and can change how we feel. Taking some time for a walk really can clear the mind and make you feel better. Whilst you are out for a walk why not take time to slow down and notice everything around you. As the skies are now so quiet, I’ve become very aware of how much birdsong there is in my local forest and how calming it is to listen to.

Many of us are still experiencing a roller coaster of emotions. It is natural to go through this when faced with change and the pandemic situation is a huge change to our way of life. Our brains are particularly good at focusing on what we pay attention to. As someone who has spent a lot of my career focused on problem-solving, my brain finds it easy to look for problems. In addition, we all have an inbuilt negativity bias; this is because from an evolutionary perspective we all have a need to keep ourselves safe. We unconsciously continually scan our environment for danger.

Notice and appreciate

Gratitude is one of our key positive emotions, by working on this we can train our brains to start noticing the positive things around us; this then enables us to more readily access a positive state of mind when we need it. This might feel hard in the current situation but just by noticing and appreciating small and simple things in our lives, it can start to make a difference to how we feel on a day to day basis.

Being outside and moving helps our brains to be creative and find ideas, how can you best use your time outside to link into gratitude? 

Reflect

If you are not able to go outside and walk, a visualisation exercise may be just as useful. Think back over your day/week and consider the ups and downs. As you metaphorically walk through your day stop at the highs and consider why they are highs. What were you doing? What were you thinking and what were you feeling?

Walking really can help enhance your mood and by combining this with regularly acknowledging what you are grateful for can go a long way to improving how you approach life.

Perhaps next time you have an online team meeting, ask everyone to bring a photograph of something they saw when they were out on a walk that they loved and are thankful for.

Be in action

A great way to change your mood is to join a Breathing Space session. It’s a safe space to destress and breathe again leaving you feeling refreshed and refocused. You can find details (days, times and meeting link) on our Breathing Space page.

Interested in finding simple tools to support your own mental and emotional wellbeing, or that of someone in your family, community or workplace? If so the ideas and top tips we share on our Total Wellbeing pages provide a great starting point.

written by

Corrine Thomas