To say that 2020 has been overwhelming would be the understatement of the decade, so it’s safe to say that we’re all looking for ways to clear our head and create some mental breathing space. Although meditation, yoga, and getting more sleep all sound great — it’s hard to carve out that much time and commitment when you’re running on fumes.
Fortunately, President Barack Obama, who knows a thing or two about stress, had a simple trick for clearing his head that’s easily attainable for most of us. “For eight years in the White House, I walked along the West Colonnade to get to and from the Oval Office — a one-minute, open-air commute,” Obama recently wrote on Instagram, according to CNBC, “It was along this walkway that I’d gather my thoughts for the day, preparing for conversations with members of Congress and constituents, reviewing plans and proposals to move the country forward.”
Though it may seem too simple to be effective, in 2016, Harvard Health Publishing reported that just 20 to 30 minutes of walking, or other low impact aerobic exercise can improve overall cognitive function and mental stamina.
As Obama knows, walking is a great mental health strategy
Obama’s walk to work was of course significantly shorter, but the key to its efficacy may be setting an intention. In his Instagram post describing the practice, Obama wrote, “On the way back to the residence in the evenings, my briefcase stuffed with papers, I’d use the time to clear my mind, anticipating my dinner with Michelle and the girls, and an exuberant greeting from the dogs.”
Per Mindful, staying present is key to mitigating the stresses of everyday life, including the struggle for work-life balance that is all too familiar to many of us. But taking a few moments, as Obama did, to make the mental shift from home to work and back again can help us be more effective in both roles.
But for many of us working from home, there may be no commute at all — is it possible to still replicate this trick? A quick walk around the block might not be as grand as a stroll to the Oval Office, but CNBC says it can still help shift your mood. According to The Muse, more strategies for creating work-life separation include setting and keeping a defined schedule, getting dressed and ready for work, and maintaining a dedicated workspace.
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