We have all been there. You need to be productive and finish that big project, then suddenly you hit a wall. No matter how much you want to get ideas on to paper, you feel stuck. You have a block. Your mind is overflowing so much, you couldn’t possibly put one more thought into it.
Chances are you have been there before. Whether you call it writers block, a mental wall or anything else, most of us have found ourselves in this exact same situation. Chances are you also know some avid fitness guru that has told you “go for a run, it always helps me clear my head!”
If you aren’t naturally a runner, then this recommendation may seem a little silly. You may roll your eyes, think you don’t have time to go running or scoff at the idea of you doing cardiovascular exercise. However, taking the time to run, or to walk/run for some people, is one of the best things that you can do clear your mind and gain clarity.
In short, running away from your problems can actually be what helps you solve them.
I believe filmmaker Casey Neistat put it best when he was interviewed by Runner’s World. He stated “every major decision I’ve made in the last eight years has been prefaced by a run.” This is because running gives people a clarity, focus and allows them to release all of those thoughts, worries and tensions that are milling about in their brain.
This isn’t just something running fanatics made up either, it is something that is actually backed and proven by science. Decades of research have gone into studying aerobic exercise and cognitive function and clarity. Most people have already heard that exercise can help release endorphins and help people feel better, but it can actually scientifically help you think better as well.
Studies that have looked into the cognitive function of animals have not only found that aerobic exercises helps new cell turnover in the brain, but that it also helps with cell turnover in the memory center of the brain. This not only suggests that running will help you clear your head and feel less bogged down, but that it will also help with focus, concentration, planning ahead, time management and goal setting as well.
As for those magical endorphins that get released during exercise?
Studies on running and emotional regulation have also been done to find that running, more than stretching or other forms of exercise, actually helps the brain’s pleasure center function better as well. It makes you feel happy. So, you aren’t just releasing hormones that make you feel happy, your brain is telling you to feel happy as well. Nothing can help you overcome a hurdle or a problem, quite like a positive attitude.
So you go on a run, you let your mind wander, and you come back feeling fit, refreshed, maybe a little tired, but happy. That is great right? Well right after your run, you are going to experience another great perk as well. Studies have also found that running can help improve focus and concentration. It is almost like while you let your mind drift and wander during your run, it resets, refreshes and comes back to be more focused than ever.
If you have never tried it before, go for a run next time you have a mental block. Then, come back and try to tackle your problem again. Chances are you are going to have much more focus and concentration and you are going to be ready to tackle your problem head on. A little run can really go a long way.
So, next time someone tells you that you can’t or shouldn’t run from your problems, tell them to think again. Because running may just be the key to solving your problem all together.