The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.Anne Frank
If this pandemic and all that is happening in our world these days is becoming a little too much for you, there are few things better to do than to simply go outside and take a walk. When I lived in South Carolina, I lived on a street with a 0.6 mile loop, and I cannot tell you how many times I walked that loop over the years. Literally thousands of times, I am sure, in the midst of all manner of storms in my life, large and small. Often walking alone, but sometimes walking with a family member or friend. Sometimes praying as I walked, sometimes listening to music, and sometimes simply walking. Walking rarely solved whatever problem I was dealing with at the time, but it sure did help.
It is solved by walking.St. Augustine
These days, when I go outside, it is more often for a run than a walk, but the effect is the same. It gets me outside with my feet moving and gives me a chance to process my day. I look forward to it.
But have you noticed that, for whatever reason, this is one activity that many of us stop doing when life starts getting out of hand? Just when we need it most, we often don’t do it. We forget, or we can’t find the time, or we feel guilty about spending that time on ourselves. For any number of reasons, we stop engaging in outdoor, physical activity just when we need it most. So this post is offered simply to remind you (and me) that we can face these challenging times much better when we simply take the time to go for a walk.
But perhaps you really don’t like to walk. For many people, gardening and other yard work has a similar effect. Kayaking, bicycling, etc. There is something about outdoor, physical activity that seems almost essential to our well-being.
Or perhaps you are not able to do any of these things. You or a loved one may be wheelchair-bound, or even bedridden. My question to you is: Can you sit? Then sit outside. Wheel your loved one outside. Find what works for you, and for those you love. And then keep doing it, even when life’s challenges are at their greatest.
I probably don’t have to remind you of this, but physical exercise has all sorts of positive effects on us. It is a wonderful way to release stress (quite literally, by lowering cortisol). It helps fend off depression (again, quite literally, by releasing endorphins). It is helps with any sleep problems we might be having.
But outdoor exercise is particularly helpful. I once read a New York Times article about a medical study in which volunteers were asked to go for two walks for the same time or distance — one inside, the other outdoors. And in almost all cases, the volunteers reported not only enjoying the walk outside more, but in psychological tests scored significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem and lower on tension, depression and fatigue.
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze.Genesis 3:8
God created us to use our bodies. We are meant to walk. And we are meant to be outside, in God’s creation. So, if you want to face these challenging times in the best way that you can, go for a walk, or a jog, or do some yard work, or simply sit outdoors. Get outside. Spend some time in God’s creation. Breathe the air. Feel the sunshine, or the rain fall. Look at the birds of the air. Listen to their song. In the midst of this storm called COVID-19, don’t batten down the hatches and stay confined in your room, in other words – get outside, and enjoy the healing gift of God’s creation.
Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?Matthew 6:26