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Mental Moment: Walking on the path to mindfulness

How taking a stroll can help you find peace
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ROSALIND LIANG/THE VARSITY
ROSALIND LIANG/THE VARSITY

There’s nothing I find more peaceful than going for a nice walk in my neighborhood on a chilly autumn day or a warm summer evening. In my most stressful moments, I have found tranquility in the cold breeze biting my face — maybe I will do well on that midterm tomorrow, but for now, this moment is bliss. 

You may not be shocked to discover that evidence suggests walking may in fact be beneficial for your mental health, but if you are shaken by this discovery, The Varsity is here to help break it down.

Benefits of marching down mindfulness lane

Walking is great for cardio — that’s a no-brainer — but did you know that walking is also great for your mental health? Turns out, walking is associated with relief from stress, better sleep, and improved stamina. If you grab a friend or two before you head out, walking in groups is also linked to better mood, self-esteem, and can improve bad moods. 

In my own experience, I’ve found that taking a step back from the rush of tests, essays, and presentations that come near the end of the semester and taking a step outside for some fresh air for about 30 minutes to an hour really helps me get back in a good headspace to continue grinding through my work. Unfortunately, this isn’t my own scientific breakthrough, as research suggests acute exercise — such as walking — can help you concentrate. 

So, if you have a hard time getting in the right headspace to crank out the rest of that essay, maybe head outside and get some fresh air — campus looks lovely this time of the year. Instead of fussing over the last two lines of code on your computer science project, maybe take a stroll down to a local coffee shop and get your favourite drink. Regardless of where you’re going, be sure to take some time for self-care, and get on your feet.

Where can I walk on campus?

If you haven’t noticed, or have decided to become one with the stacks of Robarts, U of T has a gorgeous campus with lots of places to walk. Philosopher’s Walk is a great place to stretch your legs and soak in some nice views. Maybe you’ll come to an epiphany on this trail like many a student before you. 

Not at UTSG? If you’re a UTSC student, try Valley Land Trail. This trail opened in 2019 and has some great scenery. UTM students can tie on their kicks and head to the UTM Nature Trail Loop, which is quite beautiful as well. 

All in all, I hope you find the time to get some fresh air before winter really kicks in and the indoors starts to feel a lot better than the outdoors. Walking is clearly good for you, and in times like these, self-care is always important.