Work-Life Balance: A Walk a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Anyone who knows me is probably wondering how I could be writing a post on work-life balance. This year has been full of days that start at 6 or 6:30 and don’t end until midnight or later and working weekends. In fact, I’ve found little time for one of my favorite stress relievers: exercise. NOTE: this post isn’t about the benefits of exercise.

I love the endorphin rush I get from a good walk in our hilly neighborhood while listening to some of my favorite music — another top stress reliever. However, after getting to bed at midnight or later, the last thing I want to do is drag my you-know-what out of bed to exercise. Heck, even when I was a fitness fanatic that wasn’t my favorite hour to break a sweat. The result, I find myself feeling less than stellar for my lack of movement and determined to do something about it. Little did I know all that I’d get out of it.

Lesson # 1: Put a stake in the ground.  My situation wasn’t going to change anytime soon, so I decided to find a new time and claim it as my own. At least four times a week, 5pm is my time. Period. I owe it to myself and my business. I think clearer, and I’m more pleasant–both business-building benefits. And I owe it to my family–I’ll be way more enjoyable to be around.

Lesson # 2: Be open to new possibilities. A key component to my walks’ ability to improve my mood and outlook is the opportunity to lose myself in music and my thoughts, totally on my own away from all responsibilities. However, the second time I was getting ready to go, my eight-year-old daughter asked me to go. This meant no music, no opportunity to mentally escape, no time just for me — three components that make these walks such a stress relief. Yet, this was a chance for free, uninterrupted time with Ashley, to show through my actions that I love being with her, and to encourage her to seek out physical activity.

So instead of resenting the loss of my one hour of “me” time, I chose to welcome this wonderful opportunity to share my walk with my daughter.   

Lesson # 3: Small changes can make a big difference. When we set off on our walk that first day, Ashley put her little hand in mine and started to chat away about her day. We talked about all sorts of topics, from school to vacations to why people litter to friends to the cows and other animals that surround our neighborhood and more. We laughed. And we just plain enjoyed each other’s company, sometimes daydreaming and not saying anything.

The decision to go on my walk with Ashley — and how I chose to view it —  has had a huge impact on how I feel, more than just a walk by myself would do. I still get the endorphin rush and the calming effect that I get from music, but it’s different. Different in a good way — and being open to new ways has a lot to do with that.

Do I miss my solitary walks? Sure, but I can do those when she’s otherwise occupied. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to welcome what the universe has to offer instead of fighting it — or at least try. I’m certain that’s another great stress reliever.

Lesson # 4: Feed two birds with one seed. (I never liked “kill two birds”; I like birds.) I’m a great multitasker. But I don’t typically advocate being a multitasker when it comes to relieving one’s stress. Kind of defeats the purpose, if you ask me. 😉 Yet, sometimes feeding two birds with one seed is more rewarding than tending each bird separately. Walking with Ashley gets me moving and outside with nature (another stress reliever that I recommend), and it increases the time I spend with my daughter, time that isn’t spent doing homework or cleaning or running errands. I would call that the best type of multitasking there is.  

There are other lessons of course, but you get the idea. One little walk (or whatever helps you deal with stress and brings you joy), combined with a better attitude and a go-with-the-flow approach, can “keep the doctor away,” give you the feeling that there is some balance in your life, and teach you a lesson or two along the way that you can use elsewhere in your life.

avery@aveconsulting.com' About Avery Horzewski

Principal of AVE Consulting, Avery is a marketing and customer communications consultant, and serves on WIC's board of directors as president. As a consultant, she works with companies of all sizes to develop compelling, persuasive, and effective customer-centric marketing and communication strategies that encompass everything from websites to social media to print collateral. Avery assumed the role of WIC president in January 2010, after overseeing the organization’s marketing, PR, social media, and website initiatives for three years.

Comments

  1. Avery ~ As I was getting ready to turn in for the night, I set my alarm for 45 minutes earlier than normal, with the intention of getting up to walk, knowing that with my hectic schedule out at clients tomorrow, I may not get to it. I admit though, as I set the alarm, my intentions were leaning more towards having to hit snooze more times than usual. I logged on quickly to check email and saw your post. What an awesome inspiration. I have often taken walks with my 10 year old son, and though I admit, talking about Pokemon and Bakugan for 45 minutes may not always be relaxing, like you said, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to walk hand in hand with him and just enjoy the time together. As a consultant, it’s sometimes hard to walk away from work (as evidenced by me writing this at 10:45 pm on a Sunday – LOL), but you are right, taking time to go for a walk – it’s good for the soul as well as the body.

    Thanks for the awesome post.

    Warmest Regards,

    Pam

  2. My pleasure Pam. And thank you for taking the time to make such a thoughtful comment! It made my day! I hope you had a wonderful walk and that your day goes smoothly.

    Take care, A 🙂

    P.S. I can totally relate to that snooze alarm. Back when I was working out at 5:30am, I used to tell everyone that exercising at that time of day wasn’t my cup of tea, but it was the only tea available to me. 😉 I was so often tempted to snooze it vs. walk it.

  3. Avery,

    What a delightful post. I can relate to all that you said. And you said it so nicely, and ‘lightly.’ Sometimes we have our ‘rigid schedule’ that we must follow to squeeze in as much as possible each day. Our day can be even nicer if we open up to a few manageable alternatives as they arise.

    I, too, have learned to ‘go with the flow.’ I have found it’s a great stress reliever–and often a lot more fun than my original plans. I’ve begun walking again, and love the same benefits you discuss. I change my route regularly to get different points of view–it inspires the creative side of me. However, a different ‘go with the flow’ is my topic here.

    On my two 4-hour afternoons each week with my nine-year-old granddaughter, I usually take my laptop so that I can work at my consulting business. I can work (squeeze it in where you can!) while she’s doing her homework–often at a coffee shop somewhere in SF. There are, naturally, times when she wants to talk about the day, about her homework, or other subjects, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. We might go to a park to do our work or play at the playground for a while first.

    Since we often have this gift all to ourselves, we stay close, learn from each other, and have fun. And I know that my flexibility to go with the flow–change our plans whenever we decide–builds her confidence; she’s important, too. When we can, we do what she chooses. Sometimes I make the choices and she gives the “ok”. She learns that she’s important, and she learns more about staying flexible, too.

    And I’ve just done that for myself! I’m preparing for my parents’ arrival later today, sat down to check my email while I squeesze in breakfast, and ended up reading this refreshing article. I found myself motivated to comment. Now, I need to do a little hustling!

    Thank you, Avery!

    Kathie

  4. My pleasure Kathie! I’m glad that you found the post motivating! Thank you for such a thoughtful reply, and the story about your time with your granddaughter. That was wonderful and inspirational. You and Pam have made my day two days in a row now. Have a great week–and I hope you were able to finish all of your preparations and that you enjoy your time with your parents!

  5. earlkickinger1@gmail.com' san diego yoga classes says

    As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can help me. Thank you

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