Relationships are not always a walk in the park. Rather, relationships at times, can feel like a cage match. One or both partners are over-worked, stressed out, or the resentment from being ignored has boiled over and battle lines have been drawn.
With that said, the simple act of taking an actual walk in the park may be a step in a healthy direction for your relationship. Life happens, and challenging conversations take place within a relationship all the time. Emotions can run high and often when those conversations take place at home or in a familiar space away from an audience one or both of you may tend to “let your guard down” and say something that triggers the other. The result is all too familiar…
Scheduling a regular walking “date” with your partner can be a great time and place to discuss a variety of topics. Even those topics that may be “hot topics” between the two of you. I understand it is not always feasible to interrupt a current argument, jump in the car, and head to your nearest park. If you can call a time-out and transition to a walk go for it.
I often like to reference to my clients “change of place = change of pace.”
For health purposes, research has demonstrated that our bodies react in healthy ways when we are outdoors spending time in nature. Studies have shown benefits from walking may reduce blood pressure, increase heart health, decrease stress, and enhance your mood. When we walk, at a brisk pace, our stress hormones decrease while our endorphins increase.
While there are several health benefits to walking there are also a few other intangible benefits I’d like to point out. For example, if we continually rehearse the same conversations in the same location, then we are highly likely to repeat similar behaviors. Our brain is all about short cuts. If your brain senses it is in a familiar place where it can go on auto-pilot and if you begin to have a conversation about a subject that is triggering for the relationship, then you are both highly likely to skip the small talk and jump directly into a familiar agitated place with one another.
The intangible benefits of a walk in the park together can include:
- Change the place of your conversation can change the pace of the conversation. By taking a walk in a public place you are more likely to be intentional with your words and behavior. While the court of “public opinion” can be a slippery slope it can also be a great safeguard for keeping both partners from “losing it” and exploding into a large-scale argument.
- Our brains are constantly being pulverized by all forms of media. The average person is overstimulated through-out the day and our brains are exhausted. By reducing the level of stimulation and spending time in nature our bodies can slow down, re-charge, and respond in a calmer state of arousal.
- Laptops, tablets, phones, watches, and televisions are constantly ringing and notifying us “you’ve got mail!” All of these devices can become highly distracting when a couple is trying to have a conversation. Furthermore, when we stick to familiar places, such as our home we tend to see all the “stuff” we need to get done. All of this can lead to a lack of focus.
A walk in the park can both benefit your health and your relationship. Next time you feel like you want to have a conversation that might trigger some strong emotions. Take a walk!