The Ultimate Mind Boost: Take your thoughts for a walk in 2018


While you likely know that your body needs exercise to stay healthy, did you know that your brain needs movement to operate at its peak capacity?

Research shows that even a short 10- to 15-minute walk can shift your perspective, increase clarity and boost your ability to be more innovative. Creatively-challenged, stressed-out minds are craving a walk in the fresh air with a change of scenery to ignite their brains' capabilities. So, if you do one thing differently this year, I recommend making 2018 the year you add walking to your daily routine – your mind is depending on you!

With more than 70 miles of beaches and amazing hikes in San Diego County, it should be easy to get outside and take your thoughts for a walk. If you want to spice up your regular routine, or wonder how to get the most out of a 15-minute stroll, try one of these five Positive Psychology-inspired walks borrowed from "mindful Stepping," a set of cards I produced that feature mind exercises you can do while walking:

Positivity Boost

  • Observe your environment, the people and things that you pass along the way.
  • What do you notice that gives you a sense of gratitude and/or makes you smile?
  • Take a moment to saturate yourself in each thing you witness with grateful eyes.

Relationship Boost

  • Take a walk with a significant other, friend or family member.
  • While walking in one direction, let your partner know the qualities you most admire in him/her.
  • At the mid-way point of your walk, switch role and savor your partner's positive comments about you.
  • How can you use these identified qualities to enhance your relationship?

Confidence Boost

  • Reflect on a time when you felt at the top of your game.
  • What were you doing? What skills were you using? Who was on your "team"?
  • How did you feel physically and emotionally?
  • What clues can you take from this time in your life to create more top-of-game experiences?

Mindfulness Boost

  • Pick one thing on your walk to focus on: the trees, sky, clouds, people, etc.
  • Notice the colors, textures, sounds, shapes – all aspects of your object of attention.
  • Allow yourself to get lost in the experience of being totally aware and focused on just one thing.
  • Notice how your mind feels as you complete your walk.

Purpose Boost

  • The world needs you! What tiny or large imprints have you made on the world so far?
  • Look around as you walk. Does anything trigger a desire in you for future imprints? Do you notice people whom you would like to serve? Environmental issues you would like to improve? Animals you would like to protect?
  • What one personal commitment do you want to make to continue serving the people or issues that are important to you?

– Ilene Schaffer is a positive psychology practitioner dedicated to clients in personal and professional transition. A big believer in walking, she meets with clients while strolling the beaches in La Jolla and Del Mar.

Lucy Marie Horton

I am a freelance website designer and musician, and everyday I aspire to make meaningful connections through music, teaching, and design.