From walking, to yoga, to sming, to dance, to fencing and lots of movement in between, all are considered to be great ways to improve our physical and mental well-being.
For some time now I have been walking to my therapy room in the centre of Chester or taking our sweet, and often at times very vocal, rescue dog Jessie on her morning walks.
In the past walking was about 10,000 steps, because this was how I was going to be fit and lose weight, and woe betide anyone who got in my way. I was a ball of anxiety as I tried so hard to get this right and prove something. Only it didn’t work.
Now as I walk along I’m looking at the day as it unfolds, moment by moment.
I stop and take photos. These photos are quite ordinary and nothing super special, except to me.
I am observing the ordinary moments, the ones that in the past I would have discarded as not special or spectacular enough. Who wants ordinary anyway? Who wants a life of mundane and same old same old? Well it turns out that I have found comfort and mental ease in the ordinary moments of the day.
Except that each day is different and not the same at all. Each day that I choose to walk, my personal form of movement that works for me and my body, I see something else, for instance the weather is always different. I may leave the house at a slightly different time every day. I acknowledge the difference in the day. Some would say that this is mindfulness on the move. Whatever the label, this is what is working for me. The route is the same on most days and yet I notice the ordinary moments in every day and I now look forward to these the most.
As an example, several weeks ago I witnessed a mother duck and two of the tiniest ducklings on the River Dee. She was swimming ahead of them, with them cheeping in her wake, and it appeared that she was expecting them to manage all manner of obstacles in their attempt to keep up with her.
Well only a few days ago on an early morning Jessie dog walk we saw them again. This time they were so much bigger and they were swimming in front of her. I was so excited to see them and stopped with Jessie to watch them glide effortlessly away. Still a family unit and yet so much more independent.
In that moment I marveled at the job the mother duck has done to raise her two ducklings on a river that is very busy and fraught with all manner of difficulties. I marveled at the tenacity of the two ducklings to survive and grow and compete with all the other ducks and sea birds that inhabit or visit the waters in Chester.
If I spent my time purely looking to get from A to B I would have missed moments like these. While I get that there are people for whom exercise is more than ordinary, it’s about being above average, especially if it is your life’s work as in Olympic athlete standard, what about the rest of us?
Social media shows us people who are apparently above average at everything and we begin to experience a level of stress as a result of this, that can be difficult to acknowledge. I’ve had clients say to me that to acknowledge this is for them shameful and that they are failures.
This need to strive is becoming all consuming. I would like to propose that we choose our form of exercise and movement that works for us, relax into it and observe the ordinary moments that may bring an ease and calm to the everyday worries that we have about not being enough.
What if it were possible to increase our degree of happiness not by comparing ourselves to what we see on social media, but by observing the ordinary moments in our average everyday magical world?
To be continued – August 20th.
With ease and gratitude
P.S. Cycle to work Day – https://www.cycletoworkday.org
When I originated the idea for this blog about Exercise and our Mental health ‘Cycle to work day’ was today, Friday 6th August. However the date was changed somewhere along the lines and it happened yesterday, Thursday 5th August.
I am still sharing here the link as you may find information that works for you on their website. Their blog is particularly informative. Information is shared for all levels of cycling ability.
With many of us returning to the workplace, cycling to work may be just the exercise that works for you and supports your mental health, regardless of your cycling ability.