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How Taking a Walk Resets Your Creativity

Some days, creativity comes easy. Other days, not so much. Every creative has had those moments when it feels like the creative juices just aren’t flowing, or your muse decided to call it quits early. During these moments, it’s important to know how to reset your creativity so that you can let go of the frustration and get back to creating. Today, I want to talk about my favorite way to do this, as I discuss how taking a walk resets your creativity.

Resetting your creativity

Sometimes, you get to a point in your creative work when things simply aren’t working, and you aren’t sure why. It could be fear, it could be overwhelm, or it could be that you don’t enjoy the project you’re working on. But for whatever reason, your creativity is frozen.

Think about when your computer freezes up. You aren’t sure what’s causing it, but you know it is frustrating. And you know you aren’t going to get anything done until you fix the problem.

And guess what? Almost everyone you could ask for help in such a situation is going to suggest the same thing: try restarting your computer.

Just like with your computer, restarting, or resetting, helps you shake out of your funk. By stepping away and “turning off” for just a moment, you can clear your head (or, you know, your RAM) and move forward. 

There are a number of ways to reset your creativity, and it’s important to find one (or more) that works reliably for you. What helps you restart and reboot?

How taking a walk resets your creativity

One of my favorite tactics is a quick walk.

I know it seems simple, but that simplicity is powerful, and for me at least, it is remarkably effective. Taking a walk can help reset your creativity because it affects you in a number of ways: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Walking resets creativity through physical movement.

The physical movement of taking a walk can help reset your creativity.

Movement is one of the best reset buttons you can hit. Why? Because it is the very definition of doing something different. When you’re moving, you aren’t standing still. There is change and flow that you can feel and see, in terms of both your physical state and your environment. 

Even just a little bit of movement—stretching your arms, rolling your shoulders, flexing your feet, etc.—can help start to wake you up a little bit. It makes sense, then, that a quick walk would be a great way to pull you out of your stuck state and into a more free-flowing one. 

Additionally, exercise is tied to mental health, which is in turn tied to greater creativity. Don’t think a walk counts as exercise? Think again. A brisk walk a few times a week is great for your physical health. 

Walking resets creativity through mental rest.

Taking a walk can help reset creativity because it also invites mental rest. 

Creative work isn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and beauty. A lot of times, the majority of the work happens in the nitty-gritty tasks that sap mental energy. Creativity can be really hard. It can make you think, and it can tire out your brain. This isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of significant effort.

When you walk, you don’t have to do anything other than walk. Don’t pressure yourself to solve a problem or “get something done” during your walk (though you can be productive on your walk if you’re feeling up to it). But let yourself let go of thought and just be present. Notice your feet hitting the ground. Notice the scenery around you. Be aware of the sounds and smells, of the temperature, of your breathing. 

When you treat your walk this way, you turn it into a meditative moment. This gives you some mental rest which will help you feel recharged and ready to go when you get back to your creative work. 

If that isn’t enough to get you on your feet, read about this Stanford study that found that a person’s creative output can increase as much as 60 percent while walking and shortly after a walk. 

Walking resets creativity through emotional processing.

A walk gives you a fantastic opportunity to work through some of the emotions that may be negatively affecting your creativity.

When you are “caught up” in your work, it’s easy to shove emotions down. Just keep working; no time to stop and feel anything. The problem is that stifling your emotions is also going to stifle your creativity, since emotions and creativity are so closely linked.

A walk removes you—physically and mentally, as we’ve discussed—from your work. You literally and figuratively step away. With that space between you and your work, you create room for your emotions to come to the surface and make themselves known.

As you walk, notice your feelings. What are you feeling? How strong are your feelings? Did something happen to make you feel that way? Are your feelings holding you back? Is there any way to use your feelings productively, or do you need to work through them to move forward?

Walking can also help boost emotions. A daily 20-30 minute walk can have incredible positive consequences, including boosting endorphins and lowering risk of depression.

Walking is a powerful reset tool for your creativity. And the best part is that it is so simple. It is a mindless activity you can do anytime, anywhere, without forethought, planning, or too much effort. 

So the next time you need a fresh start, even in the middle of the day, remember how taking a walk resets your creativity, and carve out some space for a little stroll. It might be just what you need to get back on track. 

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