All nurses know too well that nursing is an incredibly stressful profession. We care for people dying, injured, and chronically ill. Family members of the ill can be difficult to help. Company and governmental policies are in flux. It can be hard for a nurse to even catch a breath at times.
An outdoor walk can provide a mini vacation from the world of suffering that nurses live in every day. You might say, “I am just too tired to take another step, I walk miles at work every day, up and down the halls of my unit”. Before you say “no way am I walking” or “I will just go to the gym”, consider these benefits that you will reap by taking a walk in nature.
Multiple studies prove that nature heals. Being exposed to natural environments reduces blood pressure and stress. Studies demonstrate that people consistently report improved feelings of well being during and after immersion in nature.
Being outside is a spiritual experience for many people. Walking outside can be a meditative experience. Mental clarity can improve. This helps us to put difficult challenges into perspective. Resiliency and ability to cope with stress improves.
As you walk outside, your senses will be stimulated. If you are fortunate, you will experience some wonderful odors of flowers, pines, or freshly mown grass as you walk.
Your body will automatically inhale deeper. Deep inhalations reduce stress.
You may get some free aromatherapy. Our sense of smell is our most primitive link from the brain to the outside world. Smelling a freshly mown lawn may transport you, temporarily, to carefree days of childhood, playing in the yard. That mini vacation, can relax you. It also gives your mind a break from current worries and stresses. Sometimes, solutions to problems come to us in a flash when we are relaxed and not pondering solutions.
Pain is reduced by walking. Walking outside helps the body to utilize neurotransmitters which can help to relieve stress related headaches and muscle tightness and pain.
Walking outside may help you to sleep better. Good sleep is essential to wellness. Rest also improves the health of your immune system. Nurses are exposed to so many biological and chemical toxins daily, a healthy immune system is essential.
If you walk briskly, you will get a great aerobic workout with all of its benefits. Walking is one of the most balanced exercises for the entire body. Bone health, cardiac health and respiratory benefits are well known
Some nurses have concerns about loose stools or constipation due to work stress. Nurses notoriously eat junk food if families bring it in as a gift. Nurses tend to eat on the run or erratically while at work. Working nights adds additional havoc to the body. Walking can help to regulate the digestive tract and improve regularity.
Most nurses work inside. During winter hours, many nurses, do not get sunlight. Walking outside exposes nurses to sunshine. This can benefit circadian rhythms and provide essential vitamin D in its most natural form.
Walking outside can be energizing. It is a completely different experience than walking at work. If you have job that requires sitting for most of the day, walking outside can improve cholesterol balance and insulin sensitivity which are disturbed by sitting too much at work.
Now you know just a few of the multitude of benefits that walking on the wild side offers. Give walking a try. You will feel better and get a much needed break.