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Alcohol and Mental Health

Mindful Walking: Benefits and How To Practice

Published:
July 11, 2023
·
9 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 11, 2023
·
9 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 11, 2023
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9 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 11, 2023
·
9 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
July 11, 2023
·
9 min read

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns that jolt us from our comfort zones. This journey, as exciting as it may be, is also fraught with challenges. Our ability to bounce back from setbacks is rooted in our emotional resilience, a vital trait that buffers us against life’s blows. But, as we know, not all coping strategies are beneficial. Some, like reaching for the solace of alcohol, can undermine our emotional resilience, leaving us more vulnerable to stress. So what is emotional resilience exactly, and what stands in the way of becoming resilient? Are there ways of building emotional resilience? Let’s find out more.

What Is Mindful Walking?

Mindful walking is the practice of walking with an awareness of the movement of your body and the sensation of each step you take. It means being completely present in the moment, fully engaged in what's happening right now.

During the journey to reduce or quit alcohol, it's common to encounter challenging emotions and increased stress. Mindful walking offers an avenue for managing these struggles. This is because mindfulness focuses our attention to the present, reducing the time we spend fretting over past regrets or future anxieties. It also provides a healthier coping mechanism, and the physical activity of walking can alleviate cravings and reduce the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms.

Benefits of Mindful Walking

When we incorporate a mindful walking practice into our routine, here are a few of the benefits we can expect:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety. When we engage in mindful walking, we shift our focus to the present moment and the movement of our bodies, which can help us break free from a cycle of stressful thoughts. Over time, we can start to detach from our struggles and see them from a clearer perspective.
  • 
Improved mood. Physical activity, including walking, is known to boost mood by increasing the production of endorphins — our body's natural “feel-good” chemicals. Adding mindfulness to the mix can enhance these mood-boosting benefits.
  • 
Improved physical health. Regular walking benefits our hearts, helps us maintain a healthy weight, and increases our overall fitness levels. Being mindful of our walking also makes it more likely that we'll notice any physical issues before they become serious.
  • Increased self-awareness. As we focus on our body's movements and our breath during mindful walking, we become more aware of our physical presence in the world, which can enhance our sense of self.
  • 
Enhanced focus and creativity. By training ourselves to stay focused on the present moment during mindful walking, we can enhance our ability to concentrate in other areas of life, too. Some people also find that mindful walking sparks creativity, as it gives our active minds the space to come up with new ideas.
How to practice mindful walking

How To Practice Mindful Walking

Now that we've discussed the benefits of mindful walking, let's delve into how we can incorporate this practice into our daily routine. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Find a suitable location. This could be a park, a quiet street, or even your backyard — anywhere where you can walk uninterrupted for a few minutes. A mindful nature walk tends to be the most effective, but a quieter part of the city will do just fine!
  2. Start walking. Begin to walk at a natural pace. There's no need to walk more slowly or more quickly than you usually would — just walk at a pace that feels comfortable.
  3. Pay attention to your body. Notice the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the swing of your arms as you stride, the feeling of your muscles moving, and your body's balance as you move forward.
  4. Use your breath as an anchor. If your mind begins to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath. Notice how your breathing changes as you walk, and use it as an anchor to keep you present.
  5. Engage your senses. Pay attention to the sounds, sights, and smells around you. Notice the feel of the wind on your skin, the temperature of the air, the sounds of birds or cars, the colors and shapes you see.
  6. Accept distractions and gently refocus. It's natural for your mind to wander. Instead of getting frustrated, simply acknowledge the thought, feeling, or sensation that distracted you, and gently bring your focus back to your walking and breathing.
  7. End your walk mindfully. As you finish your walk, take a moment to acknowledge the experience. Pay attention to your mental and physical state. Has anything changed since you began your walk?

Mindful Walking: The Key Takeaways


In our bustling lives, it can be easy to forget the simple yet profound effects of practices like mindful walking. As we strive to cut back on alcohol or transition to an alcohol-free lifestyle, turning to such mindfulness techniques can offer us a means of coping with the stressors that will arise throughout the journey.

Don’t forget that mindfulness (including mindfulness walking meditation) isn't about clearing our minds of all thought — it's about learning to pay attention to our experiences in a kinder, more curious way. The next time you find yourself walking — on your way to work, strolling in the park, or simply moving from one room to another at home — take a moment to turn it into an opportunity for mindfulness.

A mindful walking practice might just add a spring to your step. And who knows? Maybe it’ll bring a welcome shift in perspective, too!

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns that jolt us from our comfort zones. This journey, as exciting as it may be, is also fraught with challenges. Our ability to bounce back from setbacks is rooted in our emotional resilience, a vital trait that buffers us against life’s blows. But, as we know, not all coping strategies are beneficial. Some, like reaching for the solace of alcohol, can undermine our emotional resilience, leaving us more vulnerable to stress. So what is emotional resilience exactly, and what stands in the way of becoming resilient? Are there ways of building emotional resilience? Let’s find out more.

What Is Mindful Walking?

Mindful walking is the practice of walking with an awareness of the movement of your body and the sensation of each step you take. It means being completely present in the moment, fully engaged in what's happening right now.

During the journey to reduce or quit alcohol, it's common to encounter challenging emotions and increased stress. Mindful walking offers an avenue for managing these struggles. This is because mindfulness focuses our attention to the present, reducing the time we spend fretting over past regrets or future anxieties. It also provides a healthier coping mechanism, and the physical activity of walking can alleviate cravings and reduce the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms.

Benefits of Mindful Walking

When we incorporate a mindful walking practice into our routine, here are a few of the benefits we can expect:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety. When we engage in mindful walking, we shift our focus to the present moment and the movement of our bodies, which can help us break free from a cycle of stressful thoughts. Over time, we can start to detach from our struggles and see them from a clearer perspective.
  • 
Improved mood. Physical activity, including walking, is known to boost mood by increasing the production of endorphins — our body's natural “feel-good” chemicals. Adding mindfulness to the mix can enhance these mood-boosting benefits.
  • 
Improved physical health. Regular walking benefits our hearts, helps us maintain a healthy weight, and increases our overall fitness levels. Being mindful of our walking also makes it more likely that we'll notice any physical issues before they become serious.
  • Increased self-awareness. As we focus on our body's movements and our breath during mindful walking, we become more aware of our physical presence in the world, which can enhance our sense of self.
  • 
Enhanced focus and creativity. By training ourselves to stay focused on the present moment during mindful walking, we can enhance our ability to concentrate in other areas of life, too. Some people also find that mindful walking sparks creativity, as it gives our active minds the space to come up with new ideas.
How to practice mindful walking

How To Practice Mindful Walking

Now that we've discussed the benefits of mindful walking, let's delve into how we can incorporate this practice into our daily routine. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Find a suitable location. This could be a park, a quiet street, or even your backyard — anywhere where you can walk uninterrupted for a few minutes. A mindful nature walk tends to be the most effective, but a quieter part of the city will do just fine!
  2. Start walking. Begin to walk at a natural pace. There's no need to walk more slowly or more quickly than you usually would — just walk at a pace that feels comfortable.
  3. Pay attention to your body. Notice the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the swing of your arms as you stride, the feeling of your muscles moving, and your body's balance as you move forward.
  4. Use your breath as an anchor. If your mind begins to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath. Notice how your breathing changes as you walk, and use it as an anchor to keep you present.
  5. Engage your senses. Pay attention to the sounds, sights, and smells around you. Notice the feel of the wind on your skin, the temperature of the air, the sounds of birds or cars, the colors and shapes you see.
  6. Accept distractions and gently refocus. It's natural for your mind to wander. Instead of getting frustrated, simply acknowledge the thought, feeling, or sensation that distracted you, and gently bring your focus back to your walking and breathing.
  7. End your walk mindfully. As you finish your walk, take a moment to acknowledge the experience. Pay attention to your mental and physical state. Has anything changed since you began your walk?

Mindful Walking: The Key Takeaways


In our bustling lives, it can be easy to forget the simple yet profound effects of practices like mindful walking. As we strive to cut back on alcohol or transition to an alcohol-free lifestyle, turning to such mindfulness techniques can offer us a means of coping with the stressors that will arise throughout the journey.

Don’t forget that mindfulness (including mindfulness walking meditation) isn't about clearing our minds of all thought — it's about learning to pay attention to our experiences in a kinder, more curious way. The next time you find yourself walking — on your way to work, strolling in the park, or simply moving from one room to another at home — take a moment to turn it into an opportunity for mindfulness.

A mindful walking practice might just add a spring to your step. And who knows? Maybe it’ll bring a welcome shift in perspective, too!

Embrace a Mindful Lifestyle With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet hundreds of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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