Dealing with a broken heart or sadness over the end of a relationship? Walking outdoors may be the key to speeding up your healing.
How exercise helps with break-ups
It’s probably not new information to you that exercise has proven mental health benefits, all of which will help you right now, regardless of the reasons for your recent break-up. Combine these with the benefits that being outdoors provides, and you’ve got a great recipe for recovery.
Break-ups can cause our systems to get out of whack quickly. From cascading emotions, tears, lack of sleep, and the inevitable mental preoccupation, the end of a relationship can leave the mind and body feeling exhausted and run down. Exercise is known to quickly produce the hormones you need to bounce back: serotonin and dopamine. A nice stroll is guaranteed to give you at least a temporary boost, and won’t leave you with a hangover.
Besides the initial release of hormones, extra movement is going to help you sleep better, which will help with those crazy periods of monkey mind that can follow a break-up (not to mention helping to prevent those late night texts to the ex!).
Nature and healing
Now let’s talk about the healing powers of good ‘ol Mother Earth. Being in nature helps to stay in the present moment, which is extremely difficult to do when processing a break-up. Practicing staying in the moment has long-term benefits including reduced stress and anxiety. The more you can practice present moment awareness in the weeks following a broken heart, the more comfortable your brain and body will be with staying focused, and the more rapid your recovery will be.
In researching this blog post I learned that exercise in nature is dubbed “green exercise”, and that there is an entire sub-culture around this type of activity. One study I read found that those struggling with mental health issues experienced the most significant results when spending time doing exercise outside.
And I’ll just say it, the last thing anyone wants after a break-up is weight gain, am I right? If the other benefits make sense intellectually but don’t get you off the couch, maybe that alone will.
How to do it
In the initial weeks after a break-up, I recommend trying to fit in 2-3 long, leisurely walks outside. Whether you go solo or with a buddy is up to you, and both have their unique benefits. My favorite way to stay motivated to exercise is to listen to podcasts, and I recommend the following:
These are just my personal picks — some guilty pleasures, some educational, all super great to listen to during a long walk outside.
Now grab those earbuds and get going!