Walking your way to wellness
Ever considered the benefits of a wellbeing walk? Being outdoors, active and surrounded by nature can boost your mental and physical wellbeing. So slow down, relax your body, tune into your senses and let's find out more shall we?
Alison Broughton is a qualified counselling therapist who specialises in nature therapy and natural mindfulness. For her, being outdoors provides an environment that is still, yet full of life and ever expanding. Here she explains a little more about her wonderful wellbeing walks and how they may just be what you need in your life.
Hi Alison, can you explain a little about your wellbeing walks?
I have always had an affinity with nature and there is so much research now that tells us about the benefits of being in nature can bring us. I wanted a way that people who don’t necessarily want to enter therapy but still want to invest in their self-care could access nature. I completed a certification in Natural Mindfulness as this fitted so well for me to connect people to the benefits of being in nature. It was here I learned about guiding people for walks and the idea for my wellbeing walks was born.
Who can benefit from the walks?
Anyone looking to put down stress, escape the demands of everyday life for awhile and anyone wanting to learn how to slow down.
What about young people?
Yes, absolutely. The seasonal breathing technique can be practiced as and when needed to promote calmness and focus. Young people under 18 would need an accompanying person over 18.
Do you research the routes before?
Yes, I trial all routes myself first to check safety and suitability with risk assessments. I have 3 locations I use regularly as witnessing and being in nature throughout the seasons contributes to overall wellbeing by connecting us more deeply to nature.
What area do you cover?
My current routes are based in and around Market Bosworth and Hinckley. There is a woodland setting, a country park setting and through the fields which incorporates fantastic vistas. I do offer bespoke packages for workplaces seeking to enhance employee wellbeing where I am able to come to a location anywhere in Leicestershire and Rutland.
And, being active is great for your mental health too.
Yes, research tells us that being in out in nature is good for us mentally and physically. It reduces blood pressure, reduces the stress hormone cortisol and helps us to regulate our nervous system which helps us to relax. We also sleep better as the access to natural daylight helps to regulate our body clocks.
By combining gentle walking in nature with natural mindfulness techniques participants feedback feeling calmer, recharged with a greater sense of clarity.
Can you do the walk on your own or is it only as part of a group?
Both! I offer private wellbeing walks for those who want a more immersive experience with focussed nature moments or feel uncomfortable in group settings, and I offer group wellbeing walks for those who want to meet likeminded other people, reduce feelings of isolation or prefer group settings.
Both private and group walks always invoke a sense of childlike awe as we begin to share focussed nature moments such as listening to bird song in Spring or spotting mushrooms in Autumn.
Do you always accompany the walkers?
Yes. My wellbeing walks are your chance to put down all concerns and just focus on yourself. I guide walkers gently as we wander with nature, and I help them learn how to slow down, how to connect to nature and in turn themselves.
Is anything discussed or are there any breathing exercises used while on the walk?
I start by explaining the terrain we will walking on and any potential hazards such as low hanging branches or uneven ground. I always offer walkers a prompt at the start of the wellbeing walk to help with beginning to focus on themselves. Walkers do not have to share anything they don’t want to and are encouraged to share only what they feel comfortable with.
The seasonal breathing technique I use is amazing for relaxation, focus and getting rid of tension in the body.
Sound interesting? Join Alison’s next Wellbeing Walks on 14 May, 27 May and 18 June.
Green Space Therapy and Counselling. Tel: 07969 275919