Have you ever felt off and you’re not quite sure why?
You’re sitting at your desk, and you know exactly what you should do. You may even have your task list sitting right in front of you. But you can’t get started — or, if you’ve started, it feels like you’re wading through waist-deep molasses to try to make any progress.
Your head’s not in it. You’re not “flowing” like you sometimes do. Your output is down. Your intelligent thinking is down. Your creativity is down.
Your mind is just not working.
There’s a lot of reasons this can happen, but there’s one thing that can often help — a lot!
Take a walk!
I know my essays are supposed to be about marketing. But you’re not doing much marketing or any other work if your productivity is in the tank.
So I’m going to talk about a little trick that can jump-start your mind for the rest of the day.
Most Americans live incredibly sedentary lifestyles. Especially those of us who use our brains to make a living. We’re often sitting still or laying down for as many as 20 hours in our day!
The good news is it’s easy to break this. And even a small amount of movement, done consistently, can have huge benefits…
The 5 reasons to take a walk…
Here are 5 good reasons, courtesy of Mayo Clinic, to strap on your sneakers and take a brisk walk around the block…
- It helps maintain a healthy weight.
- It can prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
- It can strengthen your bones and muscles.
- It can improve your mood.
- It can improve your balance and coordination.
All of these are good for you, and helpful to just having better days. The healthier and stronger you are, physically, the better your performance and confidence will be in all areas of your life.
And about that mood thing? Well, that’s one of the most important elements. Taking a walk will help stimulate neurotransmitters associated with pleasure — serotonin and dopamine. That’s the exact same effect that doctors are going for when prescribing drugs for mental health conditions like ADHD and depression.
If you want to feel better and have improved focus, this is a simple step-by-step way (forgive the pun) to get there.
One more great reason to take a walk!
Here’s that +1. A recent Stanford study examined creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat.
What did they find? Creativity output increases an average of 60% — just by walking!
So, if you’re feeling stuck, mired in a problem, wanting a breakthrough, whatever…
Get up, and go for a walk.
I’ll tell you this…
You don’t even have to walk far!
When it comes to getting all the health benefits of walking, it’s best if you take a brisk walk for at least 20 minutes.
But here’s the thing.
I’ve had little creative breakthroughs just by getting away from my desk.
I was listening to a podcast the other day, and this idea was suggested: drink a lot of water.
Not only is staying hydrated good for our body and brains, it forces us to take lots of little walks — even if we work in an office where getting up and moving around is frowned upon. (It’s hard to deny someone a pee break when they’re dancing around like the gotta go!)
Even in that little break away from your computer while you walk to the bathroom and back, you may give your brain enough space to give you a bright idea. Add even more health benefit by adding a set of stairs into the walk to and from the bathroom.
The key: baby steps…
Dang, this essay is full of puns. But I want to make sure I address this one final thing.
If you don’t walk much, and it’s a bit uncomfortable for you to regularly get up and walk (especially walk far), just do something.
In the book that I’m reading — Hustle — they recommend a process that in the field of toxicology is called hormesis. That is, controlled exposure to a stressor or toxin.
If you can’t take a brisk walk for 20 minutes, try to do a slow walk for 5. Then, go for another 5-minute walk, but try to go a bit faster for the last minute. Build up. Go on 10 minute slow walks. Go on 5-minute fast walks. Then increase, and increase — in small increments — as your body gets used to the increased activity.
Eventually, through controlled exposure to slightly harder exercise, you’ll be able to go on brisk 20-minute walks (or a lot longer!) and feel great when you’re done.
(If you are more fit than this and it seems simple to you, the same principle still applies — find the edge of your capabilities and push them a tiny bit at a time.)
Don’t underestimate the power of this…
Nothing in our career, finances, or business is worth anything if our health fails. Including our mental health.
Staying healthy and fit through even simple things like this are incredibly valuable.
And in the shorter term, taking a walk can spur little creative insights, as well as more energy and productivity for the rest of the day.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,