The Benefits of walking

 Living in New York, I like to call this time of the year fool’s spring. One day we are welcomed by the sunshine and weather in the fifties, and the next day slapped in the face with a snow storm. 

As the warm weather is slowly approaching us I have been craving more and more time outdoors.

Taking walks is an activity I begin to find myself doing again after a dull in the winter. And it has many amazing benefits for my physical and mental health. Any form of physical activity will provide a variety of health benefits. According to the CDC regular physical activity will lower your blood pressure, help manage cholesterol and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. 

Our days become so busy that it can be hard to find the time to fit in the recommend thirty minutes of exercise a day. But walking is something that you can do anywhere, any time, with no special equipment or fancy clothes needed. It makes walking the perfect sustainable activity. 

Walking also provides instant mental health benefits. It will help to reduce anxiety, improve depression, and help with better sleep. 

Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, and because of this Harvard health found that it helps prevent against arthritis by keeping your bones and joints strong and lubricated. It also helps to increase your overall muscle strength. 

Whenever I am feeling overly anxious, or my mind won’t stop wondering a walk always helps to bring me back to the present and get me grounded. 

Next time your pillow seems to be the only thing that understands you and you don’t see a point in getting our of bed, remind yourself that you got this. Put on some sneakers and walk right out the door into a better mood. 

For added benefit try walking with a friend, or a four legged companion to provide some company on your journey.

 What is Meditation, and why should I practice?

“The mind is everything. What you think, you become” -Buddha 

Meditation is the act of giving all of your attention to just one thing. Let it be a moment, the way the wind feels against your hair, or focusing on your breath. It is a way of entering a calm and relaxed state of mind. 
With everything going on in the world, it is harder than expected to enter this said relaxed state of mind. But learning about meditation and how to incorporate it into your daily routine will be a beneficial to your mental and physical health. 

Mindfulness meditation involves paying attention to the breath, observing it go in and out. Maybe even counting your inhales and exhales. It also involves accepting that your mind will wander, allow it to do so, and finding the strength to bring your mind back to focusing on your breath. When I practice mindfulness meditation I envision my mind to be a bright blue sky and my thoughts to be the clouds. accepting that the clouds are there, and watching them float by, never getting hung up on a specific thought. 

focusing on our breath forces us to be present in the moment, unconcerned about the past and the future. 

Benefits of Meditation

The mayo clinic talks about the benefits mediation has not only on your mental health but your physical health as well. Meditation helps to increase your tolerance and patience and give you tools to deal with stressful situations. 
Meditation will also help your physical health in many ways. It can help manage headaches, control blood pressure and allow you to fall asleep faster. 

Other Types of Meditation

 Mindfulness mediation is just one type of a vast collection of meditative tools. 
Mantra meditation includes repeating an affirmation or a simple word multiple times. Keeping yourself from harmful and distracting thoughts. 
Guided meditation forms a mental scenery or image in your mind, something that is relaxing and calming to you. You can be guided by sights and smells. Or more commonly have an instructor guide you through a visionary experience. 

How do I Meditate?

The first step is acknowledging that you are going to take the next few minutes to meditate. 
Create a quiet setting, turn off all distractions and maybe play some calming music quietly in the background. 
Get into a comfortable position, this could be seated or laying down. Just make sure you are comfortable and can find stillness in whichever position you choose. 
Allow yourself to find a relaxed breath. Let your inhales and exhales come naturally. Try counting your breath, inhale for three and exhale for four. This gives you something to help focus your mind on. 
Have an open mind. Meditation is a skill not easily mastered. It could become boring and frustrating but don’t give up. Keep at it, even if it for three minutes a day, over time you will notice the benefits meditation can bring into your life. 

A zero waste Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day is a day of love. A day of celebrating those that you care about. 

It is also a day that produces millions of pounds of waste. Not only are billions of dollars spent on candy, that’s a lot of plastic wrappers, those beautiful bouquets of flowers are also harming the planet. The Seattle times reported that nearly 100 million roses are grown in the United States for Valentine’s day producing almost 10,000 metric tons of Carbon dioxide emissions. 

Keep reading to learn some sustainable ways to celebrate this day of love. 

1. DIY cards

If you are shopping for a card, chances are they are made of a plastic coated paper, covered in glitter and other microplastics. 

Grab some scissors, construction paper, markers and start decorating. Make your card as silly or heartfelt as you would like. Include a poem, five things you love about them or even a simple knock knock joke.

Creating your own card is a meaningful way to tell someone you love them. 

2. A potted plant

Valentine’s day is famously known for a dozen red roses. However, cut flowers have a hugely negative impact on the environment. Most flowers are grown in industrial size greenhouses, require high water use and contribute to chemical runoff.

Show someone you love them with a potted plant, a gift that will last more than a few days. Having plants in your home cleanses the air, can help to reduce stress and boost creativity. 

3. Plan a date 

An experience to share with someone you love is worth much more than a novelty gift. Create memories together that you will have for a lifetime. 

Some ideas could be a hike with a picnic, a trip to the aquarium, homemade dinner, a craft night or even catching the sunset with some blankets and desserts. Special moments like this will bring you closer with someone you love. 

Remember to slow down and enjoy this special day with those around you.