Walking Therapy

 

The Great Outdoors

I have always been an outdoors sort of person. Whenever I find myself feeling a little low or stuck and unable to make a decision, I take myself for a walk. I am blessed to live in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales so I have lots of wonderful walks to choose from – moorland, rivers, canals, hills and woodland all within easy reach.

I confess that I hadn’t given much thought as to why being out in the natural environment is so good for my mindset until quite recently. The pandemic has made many people aware of the benefits, given people time to explore and enjoy nature in a way that they may not normally have done.

Why is it so Good for Us?

Nature is healing in so many ways. We feel at home with the shapes, sounds and smells. Fractals, endlessly repeating patterns, are everywhere – trees, branches and leaves; ripples on the water; cloud, patterns on tree bark – and these patterns sooth our brains, moving us out of the fearful, negative parts of the brain and into the pre-frontal cortex where we feel positive and hopeful. Trees give off substances called phytoncides which are known to stimulate the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which makes us feel happy and brave; the sound of running water is known to switch off the fight or flight part of the brain and relax us; and when we see something magical – a bird or an animal at close range, we get a little shot of dopamine which makes us feel fantastic!

Getting out there Together

As well as explaining this to my clients, I decided it would be lovely to be out there with them, during our therapy sessions, and so I trained with Jonathon Hoban (a pioneer of walking therapy and author of the book ‘Walking with Your Wolf’) in the art of walking therapy. We spent time together discussing how I could use my skills as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist in the natural environment.

I am so excited to be able to share this with you. Taking advantage of the natural environment in conjunction with a solution focused approach to reaching your goals is a very positive way forward, and one that you can keep using for the rest of your days.

Why not try it for yourself?

Next time you go for a walk, perhaps you could make it more mindful by paying closer attention to your surroundings and focus in on each of your senses, one at a time:

What can you see?

Take time to look more closely, stand or sit still and take in the detail. Can you see trees, how many different types are there? How many shades of green? Are there any wild flowers – the bluebells and wild garlic are looking and smelling great at the moment. How many birds can you see?

What can you hear?

Perhaps you can find somewhere peaceful to sit or stand and close your eyes so you can focus on the sounds that are all around you. Perhaps you can hear water running, wind rustling, birds singing and insects humming.

What can you smell?

The earth itself smells lovely, especially after rain and perhaps you’re near those bluebells or wild garlic. Again, if it’s safe to do so, close your eyes so you can really concentrate on the smells ….they may not all be pleasant!

What can you feel?

What does the ground feel like under your feet or can you become more aware of how your body is in contact with the bench you’re sitting on? You can touch the trees or the grass if you like, how does that feel?

Walking Therapy Sessions

Nature is so powerful, it helps us to relax, and even to go into a form of trance, which makes it a great environment for therapy. Walking opens up a free flow of ideas making it easier to find solutions to your problems. Solution focused techniques and questions help you to find the way forward in a positive way. No need to dwell on past issues, this is all about your preferred future.

Before embarking on walking therapy, an initial consultation takes place, either in person or on Zoom, to explain the whole process and discuss whether it is right for you. The walks themselves are all risk assessed and safe, fairly flat and not too long.

What Next?

If you would like to find out more, please get in touch via email on karen@kdhypnotherapyskipton.co.uk or call me on 07850 732761, I would love to hear from you. Happy walking!