Moving forwards: mentally and physically

Do you ever get stuck in rumination or feel ‘mentally stuck’ at work?

Then going out for a walk might be just the thing to help you move forwards mentally as well as physically.

There’s some intriguing research data that backs up this idea.

In her book ‘Move: The New Science of Body Over Mind’, Caroline Williams writes about a study in which psychologists have found that a person’s direction of movement influences what they think about. They discovered that when we move forwards we are inspired to think about the future, while moving backwards brings back memories of the past.

Williams also refers to another study on the effect of movement on how we perceive time. In her words:

“Research also shows that moving forwards distorts the way we perceive time. Experiments suggest that, when we move, our ‘timeline’ gets stretched and distorted so that the past feels further away. That the past feels more distant as we physically move forwards is important, because a major risk factor for depression is the tendency to ruminate, getting stuck in a loop of over-analysing things you’ve said, done or experienced in the past while getting steadily more despondent. Physically moving forwards can help prevent this by making the bad stuff seem further behind you.”

It’s an intriguing idea that might be worth trying. Personally, whenever I feel stuck or in need of a positivity boost, I try to head out the door for a walk. The world always seems like a sunnier place for having been out for a stroll.

So next time you feel mentally stuck or need to find momentum to move forwards with an idea, stop sitting still, staring at your screen.

Instead, get away from your desk and move.