Autumn is a season associated with change. Schools go back after the summer just as the weather starts to turn and the clocks go back. In this blogpost we explore how to find solace in dog walking during this transitional season, as well as some of the physical, emotional and mental benefits of spending time outdoors regularly with your dog. This year more than most, we’re all faced with lots of changes as we head into the winter months. Sometimes a lot of change all at once can feel overwhelming and it can be hard to adapt.

The Henry Wag team have all been taking time out to reflect individually about what companionship means for them and their animals. Many of whom have used dog walking as a cathartic escape and intentional pause from day to day life. Whether you’re stressed at work, in your personal life or by external influences like the news, finding solace in dog walking is a great tool to use to help with your general wellbeing.

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Gentle Exercise and Vitamin D

In our hectic daily lives it can be difficult to find time to take care of ourselves physically. Trying to establish and maintain an exercise routine can be exhausting. Especially once you factor in our other responsibilities like childcare, finances and work. While we all know there are copious benefits of physical exercise for our health, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

Thankfully, dog walking provides a gentle method of exercise that can be sustained over a long period of time. The flexibility of dog walking also means you can train as little or as much as you’d like. You can train and tackle larger hills and mountains, or stick to flatter valleys or river walks if you’d prefer. Being outdoors also means you’re exposed to Vitamin D, which is known for strengthening your immune system and boosting your mood, among other benefits.

1 in 6 adults in the UK have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Getting outside with your dog daily and exposing your skin to the sun will help ensure your vitamin D levels are topped up year round.

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Step Away From the Screens

Taking your dog out for a walk forces you to step away from your screens and out into the great outdoors. Surrounding yourself with nature and allowing yourself time to take things slow will do wonders for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Doomscrolling the news and comparing yourself to social media’s ‘highlight reel’ is all too easy and tempting when you’re feeling down and life is stressful. However, intentionally leaving your phone at home (but making sure you’re still keeping yourself and your dog safe) and finding solace in dog walking will ground you and force you to take things at a slower pace. Even if it’s just for a short while, your brain will appreciate the stress-free break.

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It Grounds You in the Here and Now

Finding solace in dog walking provides the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness. It’s also great for boosting your bond with your dog. There are plenty of ways you can introduce mindfulness on your daily dog walks. From unplugging your devices, to creating sniffari’s for your dog or following nature trails and documenting the changing seasons. You could even implement additional tools like gratitude journals or diaries to document your daily walks with your dog. Providing a means of documenting your thoughts and feelings, as well as your adventures and experiences together.

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Dog Walking Helps You Create Routine

When times are overwhelming, it can be tricky to keep up a daily routine. Even more so when it comes to self-care and finding time to relax and unwind. Having the responsibility of a dog and actively finding solace in dog walking can help some people create and maintain a predictable daily routine. Knowing your dog needs to go outside throughout the day helps to anchor you. This is particularly helpful if you feel like other elements of your life and situation are beyond your control. Focussing on what you can control and carving out time to spend with your dog each day is likely to help you start feeling motivated, comforted and accomplished.

How do you find solace in dog walking? What benefits do you feel from exploring with your dog outdoors?