Wellness and self-care have required extra attention to break out of the sometimes isolated atmosphere we’ve been dealing with over the last 19 months.
As walking became a great way to exercise and a safe way to meet friends, I discovered the Garden City Greenway. I have even gotten out during the seasons changing and have found that during winter there is something about the frost on the trees and the crunch of leaves underfoot that relaxes me. I remember even enjoying the snow last winter!
The Greenway covers a fair amount of land (13.6 miles!) but I have set the goal to walk the entire route before Christmas this year. My reasons to keep up this hobby range between exercise, relaxation, meeting new people, exploring nature...the list goes on, but what I would say is that they all link to my wellbeing and mindfulness.
Before deciding to start my winter walks, I did a little research and found that there are many benefits to walking some of which are;
- Improves mood
- Relieve back pain
- Lowers your risk of blood clots in your legs
- Lowers blood pressure and risk of heart attack
- Strengthens arms
- Tightens abdominal muscles
- Keeps knee joints healthy
- Strengthens feet to reduce the load on other joints
So, with this knowledge, I sought out some podcasts and playlists that would help de-stress me and make me appreciate the changing season and landscape.
Week 1 from Radwell Meadows
I started my first week on my winter wanders at lunchtime when the weather was still quite warm. I was able to take advantage of the sun and treated myself to a picnic. I thought I would feel uncomfortable eating by myself but I found it relaxing as I watched the birds move from tree to tree, they look so free and unrestrained. While eating I listened to the meditation podcast ‘Meditation’ on Spotify. The podcast made me focus on my breathing. focusing on my breathing allowed me to feel at peace and in control.
Week 2 from Norton Pond
My second week exploring the Greenway I came across Norton Pond, this was the first week in December when the weather was at -1 degrees at this point it was much colder than it was last week. Although the cold was daunting, once I got outside it was worth it.
I listened to the ‘Mind to Walk’ podcast and really enjoyed the episode ‘Walking Medication with Edith Bowman’. Listening to the podcast this week had motivated me to carry on with my aim to complete route despite how cold it could get. The podcast spoke about sensations; the feeling of your surroundings and Edith encouraged me to “feel each footstep, hard or soft, warm or cold”. Walking when it’s cold enhances your senses, and believe me, it wakes you up quickly! So why not try it before work to help shake off the cobwebs.
Week 3 from Standalone Farm
This week on my winter wanders I began my walk after work. I had such an amazing day at work and wanted to prolong the level of serotonin I had by exercising. I also know that you can get a really clear view of the sunset on the path that starts off Wilbury Road.
I remember doing part of this walk in the summer but this time it felt a bit easier. I can feel my stamina improving a little and this is also helping me make better decisions such as drinking more water so that I can walk for longer.
Week 4 from Willian Arboretum
I hadn’t considered myself a morning person but this is a habit I would like to break out of before the new year! This week I had Friday off from work so I took full advantage and planned to do a two-hour walk. As I knew this would be one of my longest walks so far, I decided to put on something practical and wore gym clothes and my good walking boots.
I started my walk at 7:00 am to catch the sunrise and listened to ‘Life with Marianna’. I especially liked her episode named ‘My Daily Habits + Wellness Routine’. Marianna spoke about the habits she would like to obtain and break and I could relate to some of the habits she spoke about. Mixing this podcast with some of my favourite songs meant the two-hour walk flew by and I ended up walking just over half of the route!
A few tips for beginners:
- Remember it gets dark quicker during the winter so make sure you pick a good time to start your walk
- Always carry a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated.
- Walk at least 15 minutes a day; you could do this during your lunch break.
- As hard as it may seem, fresh air is the best cure for the morning after! So, during the festive break, take advantage of the crisp air.
Here are my top 5 guides to mindfulness podcasts (in no order). Why not listen to them on your wanders this winter and walk away the winter blues:
- Mind to Walk
- Life with Marianna
- Growing the Good- The Mindful Podcast
- Mindful in Minutes