We all can use a break occasionally. Taking a break gives you a chance to mentally, physically, and in some cases, emotionally, push the pause button. Walking, particularly mindful walking, can provide the perfect activity to kickstart your next healthful break.
Never heard of mindful walking? Chances are you have to get from Point A to Point B multiple times during the day, whether this means walking to a meeting, walking from your living room to your office upstairs, or even walking to get the mail. Mindful walking allows you to take these moments in time to bring awareness to your body and your surroundings, grounding yourself for the next upcoming task. Indoors or outdoors, big or small space, here’s how to get started:
For a formal approach, follow these steps :
- Find a relatively quiet space that will allow you to walk 10 steps forward without obstruction.
- Stand in place for about a minute and take a few mindful breaths.
- Lift your right foot, move it forward, and place it on the ground in front of you. As you move, take note of the physical movements that your body is making to propel you forward.
- Do the same with your left foot.
- Move slowly at a pace that allows you to maintain your balance. When you reach the end of your path, stand in place and take a few mindful breaths.
- Repeat by walking in the opposite direction.
Note: Using the phrase “Lift. Move. Place.” may help guide you through the process. If you feel that this phrase causes your mind to wander, you can easily abandon it and focus on your bodily movements.
If you are looking for a more informal approach of bringing mindfulness to your next walk, try these steps :
- As you walk, pay attention to your movements.
- Pause occasionally to take in your surroundings by mindfully engaging your senses.  You may begin by noticing the sounds, and then move to smells and sight.
- If you are on a familiar path, begin your walk by asking yourself: “What is one new thing that I can notice today?”
- Stop and take at least one mindful breath when you reach your destination.
A few extra tips to keep in mind:
- Before you begin your walk, place your hands wherever you find most comfortable: on your stomach, by your sides, or behind your back. 
- Check out your favorite music app for curated playlists or guided podcasts on mindfulness.
- Remember that there is no time requirement for this exercise. Whether you have 5 minutes or 30 minutes, you can practice mindful walking for increased awareness.
- Have patience with yourself. Practicing mindfulness is just that: practice. It will come with time!
Written by Darci Bell, RDN, LD | Edited by Laurel Sanville, MS, RDN, LD