Are you struggling to find a healthy way to mentally escape the strains of coronavirus during lockdown? An ‘awe-walk’ might just do the trick.
Unlike regular walking, the purpose of an ‘awe-walk’ is to stray away from personal worries and inner thoughts of ‘what’s for lunch’ by focusing on the blissful details or small glories during a stroll.
Simply put, it’s taking a fresh look at things and appreciating the surroundings.
Tips on awe-walking:
- Apply a childlike curiosity on a stroll. Wow over the ability and bodily mechanics of being able to move your legs, marvel at a tiny insect or wonder over architecture.
- Quit placing expectations on hitting walking targets.
- If you find your surrounding area is a tad uninspiring, have a closer look. You might be surprised!
- Take an alternative look at your surroundings through a camera viewfinder. Why not use a camera to really zoom up on gnarly details in an artistic way?
The benefits? According to researchers, taking regular awe-walks lead to people feeling more positive and stress-free.
The concept of it is… unusual and there’s definitely an image that comes to mind of tree huggers or someone ogling at a leaf expressing the words ‘whoa dude’. However, if you look beyond this, science suggests that cultivating a bit of awe on a walk can combat depression – something that is likely to have been intensified by coronavirus.
One psychological study in September 2020 found that it diminished negative feelings and led to positive ones, like gratitude.
Its participants, who were selected based on age, reported that they had increased feelings of joy and ‘greater decreases in daily distress over time’.
Another thing that awe-walking forces you to do is to remain in the ‘now’.
Rather than thinking about what to cook for the next family meal (a future issue) or what happened on a particularly boozy night (which is in the past), it fixes your minds on the present moment.
Many philosophers and spiritual teachers talk about the importance of being ‘present’.
American historian and author, Alice Morse Earle, and Master Oogway (the tortoise in the Kung Fu Panda film), both used these wise words: ‘Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.’
Jesus is quoted in the Bible, saying: ‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’
Best-selling author, Eckhart Tolle, states in his book ‘The Power of Now – A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment’ that time is just a construct and that we need to ‘end the delusion’ of it.
He writes: ‘The more you are focused on time – the past and the future – the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.
‘Why is it the most precious thing? …Because it is the only thing. It’s all there is. The eternal present is the space within which your whole life unfolds, the one factor that remains constant. Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be.’
Benefits to being ‘present’ include: improved creativity; better productivity; less overthinking; having more emotional openness; better stress management; and strengthening relationships. All of which can lead to you feeling more positive.
Positivity is something that can feel incredibly distant right now when the world is facing very real burdens of the pandemic, which no one expected to be ongoing for more than a year.
In addition to this, there is an infectious negativity that is being witnessed online and within the island’s social feeds, which does little to aid mindsets. It mostly spreads unhealthy versions of fear and mistrust.
Awe-walking may seem insignificant, but it could perhaps play a sizeable part in enhancing the grave issue of mental health on the island.
It gets people out of the house and into the fresh air. It gets people exercising and coming back refreshed. It gets people away from screens that can spout a lot of negativity and might persuade them to take part in.
Most importantly, it can make people appreciate the life they have and the beautiful place we all call home.
If the pandemic has got you feeling down and you can’t reach out to those closest to you, speak to your GP about it. The Isle of Man Government also provides some helpful Covid-19 wellbeing tips here.