Episode 89: Go For a Freaking Walk

You’re listening to The Work Of Becoming podcast! My name is Dr. Karin Nordin. I am your host as well as a behavior change expert and self-proclaimed tornado girl. I spent years of my life struggling to change before I finally got my PhD and learned the psychological tools that I needed to actually make those changes happen. Now, I’m bringing you five-minute sneak peeks of how I’m applying the real science of self-help to my life. Let’s get started!

Hello, everybody, and welcome to The Work Of Becoming podcast! Today, we are gonna talk about going for a walk, and more scientifically, we are gonna talk about a psychological construct called Uplifts.

So, I’ll be honest, Uplifts and the research around Uplifts are not something that I had actually heard about until recently. So, if you don’t know, inside of Change Academy, my membership, (well, on the backend of it) we actually have two PhD-level researchers who are experts in psychology, learning, motivation, etcetera, etcetera. Between the two of them, they have kind of a wide range of expertise. What we have them doing is, instead of me just going out and finding all of my own research that kind of affirms whatever biases I already have, I tell them the topic, they go out and find a bunch of research, and then I review that research almost as a form of peer review, and I build the Academy slides based on that, which is one of the things that makes the Academy so much cooler than something like a self-help book. They are reviewing not only classic, pivotal, large-grounding studies in the literature. They are also finding the latest stuff. One of the pieces of research that’s kind of emerged in the last, I would say, five or ten years is this concept about an Uplift.

So, an Uplift is essentially a mindful moment in your day, and if you were a member of Change Academy in May, you know we talked about this in the How to Build a Routine workshop, so this is gonna be a little repetitive for you for a minute here, okay? But an Uplift is this mindful moment of joy. It’s essentially like a tiny, tiny, tiny moment in your day where something good happens or even something good doesn’t have to happen. It can be you really enjoy something, you grab your favorite coffee from the coffee shop, you spend a moment playing with your dog. These tiny moments, what they have found, is they are actually protective against the stressors in our lives, and they can make a direct increase on self-control and willpower. In other words, when people are intentional about having and noticing little moments of joy throughout their day, that actually is protective against stress and boosts willpower. I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but I would love to increase my self-regulation and my willpower a little bit, and I would absolutely also love to be more buffered against stress.

So, I read this research, and I was really interested in this concept of Uplifts, and I started playing around with integrating more Uplifts into my routine, which I talked about in last month’s Academy workshop, and I’m not gonna go over all the different ways that I’ve incorporated that, but one of the ways that I have done that, that I have been really, really diligent about, even as my life has been tumultuous this month, is a daily walk.

Here’s the thing about a daily walk. Especially if you go outside, that outside exposure brings you back into your body, it helps you ground yourself, and that time when you’re just walking, and your mind is sort of wandering is excellent for rejuvenating your attentional regulation. So, your attention is a limited resource, and when you walk, when you just let yourself daydream, when you let your mind wander, that is the psychological equivalent of taking a rest period at the gym.

So, I’ve incorporated every day after I get home from work (or every day after I’m done with work if I didn’t leave) I try to take Zoom on a walk for at least 20 minutes, and during that time, I focus on making it an uplifting experience. So, I don’t listen to podcasts. I don’t listen to music. I put my phone in my pocket, I don’t look at it, and I just walk, and I try to be in my body, and I let my mind wander. I don’t direct it towards anything. That experience has been so transformative for my mental health because it has created this tiny buffer, this break in my day where I come home, I do that walk, and I can release everything that I’ve experienced at work, and I can transition into, “Okay, Karin, what is it that I need to do between now and the time that I go to bed that’s going to be helpful and protective and supportive for me?”

So, if you’re not incorporating or noticing Uplifts in your day, if you’re not paying attention to that, if you don’t have a routine that incorporates Uplifts, I would encourage you to play around with that a little bit more, and I would also really, really, really encourage you to go for a walk. Try to do it every day. As always, do it as frequently as possible. Worry more about frequency, less about consistency. Try it out for 30 days and let me know how you feel!

PS: if you are on a journey to become a better you, and you want to learn the tools and techniques that will actually help change your life, make sure you check out my Change Academy Membership. Each month, we do a 1.5-hour workshop on a different psychological topic, but we also provide resources like journal prompts, worksheets, and trackers. We host community events and more. If you’re struggling to close the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it, this membership was built for you. Go to www.karinn4.sg-host.com/change-academy to learn more!


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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.


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