Walking and nature for grief
What are the benefits of walking for grief?
Improved mental health
You might have noticed a lift in your mood after exercising and the link between exercise and good mental health are well documented. But after someone dies it’s important to take things slowly. Don’t expect to be back to the same level of activity straight away. You may have days where you feel like walking for miles and others where you’d rather stay inside. Try starting slowly with a five minute walk one day, and slowly increasing until you reach your comfort level.
Walking with others can help you to form connections with those you haven’t spoken to since before the death. Walking side by side can also make difficult conversation feel easier than talking face to face.
It’s normal to have trouble sleeping after a death. Slowly trying to increase your daily exercise (when you feel strong enough to leave the house) is just one way to get your sleep back on track.
Visiting meaningful locations
Organising a hike to visit the places that were special to the person who died is a great way to pay them tribute and return to exercise at the same time.
What are the benefits of nature for grief?
Connecting to the present
Being in nature helps you to feel connected to the present when you’re spending a lot of time thinking about the past. Distracting sounds like rustling leaves or water trickling can help to focus your mind on what’s happening around you.
Getting out in nature helps to increase your physical exercise, social contact and exposure to natural light, all of which makes a big difference to your mood. If you don’t live in the countryside, volunteering at a local city farm is a great way to slowly reintroduce outdoor activities.
Trying new things
Growing flowers or vegetables, taking part in a foraging course, or even joining a woodland trail are all great ways to feel closer to nature after someone dies. If you’re interested in trying a new outdoor activity, the mental health charity Mind has an excellent list of things to try outdoors for your mental health.