Deep Dive into Anxiety Relief | Walking in a Small Town

Ever get a song stuck in your head? For the last week or so I have had this playing on a loop during most of my daily walks:

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Probably die in a small town
Oh, those small communities

— John Cougar Mellencamp, Small Town

Now it’s probably important to give some context: I live in a very small town. So small in fact that my daily walks of 3-4 km take me around the entire town. Don’t get the wrong idea: we are not remote and isolated! Our roads are all paved and we have basic essentials like a pharmacy, grocery and gas station. The closest city is both far enough (our night skies are full of stars) and not too far (it’s only a half-hour drive).

When I go out for a walk its always with my puppy Lizzy. Sometimes Lizzy’s best friend tries to follow us.

Lizzy and her bestie Ivy
Lizzy and her cat-bestie Ivy

As much as I’d like to let her it wouldn’t be safe unless I got one of those cat backpacks. Pretty sure my wardrobe is eccentric enough without adding that to the mix!

Warm and cozy winter walk
Warm and cozy winter walk

The first and most essential component of your walk is your dog (or in these strange times, perhaps a neighbour’s dog?) Beyond that, all you need is comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing. For me that means layers. Lots of layers.

Leave your device at home and listen for the sound of birds. Not having headphones also frees you up to say hello to your neighbours which is more important than ever. Focus on your five senses (therapists recommend the 5-4-3-2-1 technique to control severe anxiety or panic).

Walking increases the flow of oxygenated blood in the brain as well as boosting the release of feel-good endorphins and dopamine. More on this from the Mayo Clinic.

As a woman in her 50s, walking is excellent for me as it simultaneously gives the cardiovascular system a gentle workout while strengthening bones. I find I need a good 45-minute walk once or twice a day to kick in the relaxation benefits.

Of course, the walks have tremendous benefits for Lizzy as well. She is still learning about her world at 9 months old. The long walks also serve to chill out the puppy zoomies!

Peace & Progress

PS: a little love from Lizzy and her dog-bestie Barney.

 

 

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