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The benefits of mindful walking

By Michelle O'Dell, Counsellor

Many of us know instinctively that being in nature is good for us.

It can be a natural remedy to a stressful day, an escape from the trappings of a busy life or simply a space to exercise and explore.

May is National Walking Month, which was established to promote the many physical and mental health benefits of walking.  In addition, it can help us feel more connected to our community, our local environment, and the wider natural world. Beginning this month, we are introducing mindful nature walks in the local area, with the aim of connecting with the self and with nature – an opportunity to get out of the mind and into the body.

A space for family members to connect

Working as a counsellor in the Patient and Family Support Team, I understand how difficult it can be to find time for yourself when you’re caring for a loved one or have experienced a bereavement. It can feel all-encompassing. That’s why it’s important for St Barnabas to offer a safe and nurturing space for family members to relax and restore.

Connecting with nature has been proven to benefit our mood and emotional well-being, as well as improving cognitive function.

Mindfulness in nature

Mindfulness is about slowing down and being present in the moment. At the beginning of each walk, I’ll invite everyone to observe their five senses. It’s a chance to really connect with our physical sensations, the wind on our skin, the smell of the air and the ground beneath our feet.

This is not a talking group, though participants may wish to share ‘in the moment’ experiences, for example, a flower that catches your eye, the sound of nearby wildlife or the way a tree moves in the breeze. We’ll interact with each other, but it’s not a place for a deep dive into feelings – rather, it’s an opportunity to restore your connection with yourself.

Get involved

The group will run once a month, however, there’s no obligation to come to every session. The last thing we want is to add to your to-do list! I hope that attending one or more of the walks will allow mindfulness to become part of your everyday life. That’s certainly been my own experience – I no longer approach a walk as something I have to do, to exercise the dog or get from A to B, but as an experience to relish in itself.

How to get involved

  • The walking group is open to adult family members and carers whose relative has been, or is currently, cared for by St Barnabas
  • Get in touch with our Living Well Team to express your interest

 

Contact Living Well