Feeling stuck? Stressed when you need to do your best? Is your creativity blasted? Are you distracted? If you’re mobile and near water, get back on track with a beach walk! Any outdoor trek is a step in the right direction, but my preferred path to better work begins with surf.
In 2003 my International Coach Federation (ICF) colleagues beached their routines for a lakeside CoachWalk experience. They were eager to learn about integrative coaching (connecting mind, body, emotions, spirit) and I wanted to test-walk my theories with respected peers. Also, it was fun to hit the beach in the name of professional development.
Since then, an ocean of evidence affirms what we discovered, and what trailblazers have known for ages. Walking in nature improves attitude, creativity, mindfulness, clarity, strategic thinking, learning, problem solving, focus, mood, and more. It’s good for you and your work!
Curious about taking your work for a beach walk? Here are 7 tips to get your feet wet:
- Be safe. Make sure you’re fit for walking on coastal terrain, e.g., uneven sand, rocks, or shells. Beware of hazards and be prepared to call for help. Once, while barefoot on silky white sand, I stepped on broken glass. Ouch.
- Choose the right time. Consider whether others will be crowding the coast. Show up early for sunrise. Try “not good beach weather” days, off-season, or less popular spots. Avoid distractions (the fascinating range of bodies on display, roaring jet-skis, volleyball games).
- Give your brain a break; have no objective. Allow your mind to be empty, free and open. Let your thoughts meander, coming and going like the waves. Trust you will feel restored, energized, and more focused following the walk.
- Alternatively, have a realistic, next-step agenda. (Yes, I’ve contradicted no. 3, above.) A beach walk rescue and recovery talk may be just what you need when facing an unexpected event or sticky situation. Invite a colleague or thinking partner to help you “walk through” the issue.
- Be present and engage your senses. This will come naturally if you slow down and pay attention to nature’s wonders. Stop, look, and listen. Enjoy glorious shades of blue, green, brown or gray. Feel the sun, see the clouds, hear the birds, and breathe in fresh air. Appreciate the soft sand or cool refreshing water.
- Explore pace and space. Weave in and out of the surf, stay close to the water, or make tracks through nearby dunes. Vary your stride or stop altogether. First steps may be heavy with fatigue, but later you may feel invigorated and inspired to stretch, skip, or jog. Have fun.
- Maximize walking momentum. If an idea popped into your head mid-walk, note it before you forget it. Return to work immediately. You’re likely to be more awake, inspired, efficient, accurate, and focused.
I encourage you to experience the wonders of beach walking. Your footprints in the sand may lead directly to better work performance!