I think getting a more active dog has been such a blessing for me, I was not pushing myself and it was really affecting my mental health. Dexter, unlike Gizmo loves to go for walks and I have been using them to have mindful walks for my mental health.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation, originally a Buddhist practice, and is now being used by therapists and doctors to treat depression. Simply put it is the process of being in the moment, of letting go of your thoughts and letting them pass by like clouds on a sunny day. Instead of thinking about that fight you had ten years ago and thinking of what you should have said you concentrate on the now. Instead of worrying about that doctors appointment tomorrow you concentrate on the now.
Use when walking
When I take the dogs out, I let go of the things that might be crowding my head and instead I focus on the walk. I take in the smell of the fresh air, I look at the plants and flowers along the walk, I concentrate on the trees and the sounds of the birds and most of all I pay attention to my dogs.
Doing these things calms me down, I walk slowly taking in everything, I let them sniff and wander around me on their leads. I love saying a hello to the people we pass, and telling my boys they are being good and I notice every little thing. It is such a beautiful walk and being mindful I get to appreciate what I have right on my doorstep and be grateful for it.
How it helps
Life can feel so rushed, but slowing down and really appreciating life as it happens can help you cherish the moment. I often see other walkers pulling their dogs away from sniffing trees and instead of enjoying the peace they are looking down at their phone screen.
People pay a lot of money for Forest Bathing, but I get to do it every day that I am well enough to take my dogs out. Getting away from technology and just being with nature lets you relax and just be. The moment is the only real thing we have, I spent most of my life worrying about the future or regretting the past. When people say the year has flown by its because they are not in the moment, so why not try some mindful walking for my mental health?