This time of year is wonderful and stressful, entertaining and overwhelming. You suddenly have an overflowing to-do list and more social obligations than you have during the rest of the year combined. Today’s recommended ritual aims to give you a few minutes each day of mental rest and physical rejuvenation to help you through the holidays.
But don’t quit in January just because the holidays are over! Working for 8+ hours per day doesn’t do much for our metabolism, energy level, or attitude. Taking a quick daily walk can renew your dedication to your work, whether your work is at home, school, or your job. When you stand up and move your body, you have the chance to recover physically and improve your productivity at the same time.
Sure, a ten or twenty minute walk isn’t going to help you lose 20 pounds this month. But activity of any kind is good for your body. Sometimes when I am driving home from work in the evening, I have to adjust the rearview mirror in my car because I feel shorter—I think this is a direct result of hunching in front of the computer screen all day. My body can be heavier and shorter by the end of a long day sitting. If I take a short walk during the day, my body has a chance to stretch out and recover from my “knowledge work” as David Allen calls it.
Moving around will improve your mental outlook as well as your physical well-being. When you stand up from your desk and walk around the office or outside, the change of scenery will serve as a reminder that things are still going on in the world outside of your daily routine. Changing your context can refresh your perspective on the tasks you are working on. If you can go outside, do that. Breathing in fresh air (or at least different air) and hearing new sounds will give your mind a rest and will allow you to refocus when you head back inside.
After you’ve rejuvenated your mind and your body, you can sit back down and get back to work. You’ve given your mind a rest and your eyes are fresh again to take in your project. When I am writing and editing something, I always need to put away the manuscript for a while before I edit it, otherwise I won’t catch the mistakes I’ve made. This is true of all sorts of work. Step back, take a break, put your mind on something else, then you can dive back in with renewed energy and purpose.
What does this daily walk look like? It’s up to you. You can take an hour-long power walk, or you can stand up and walk around the office a few times per day. Length is up to you. Intensity is up to you. Location is up to you. Just do something to get your oxygen flowing.