Good for the Body, Good for the Mind
By Evan Braun
I’ve often been told that exercise is helpful for relieving stress and clearing the mind. Something about the release of endorphins. As someone who has been chronically overweight most of my life, I’ve generally found this to be… hard to believe. It doesn’t make intuitive sense to me that a workout can be an effective way to, essentially, relax.
Turns out it’s true.
The reasoning here is that the brain produces those endorphins—a kind of feel-good chemical—when the body engages in physical activity.
Now, there’s also a good reason why I found this hard to believe. My brain may have been pumping out endorphins to make me feel good, but the pain I felt all over—especially in my overworked knees!—simultaneously made me feel really, really bad. So it was kind of a wash, at least for the first little while.
But I kept at it, and I’ve been realizing the benefits.
I know what you’re wondering—what on earth does this have to do with writing? This is a writing blog, right?
Well, here’s the thing—physical exercise doesn’t just relieve stress and make you feel good. It doesn’t just clear your head.
In my experience, it also paves the way for more predictable outpourings of creativity and productivity. And to a writer, for whom these qualities can sometimes be in short or inconsistent supply, this can be a game-changer.
Throughout the pandemic, the extended periods of isolation really messed me up, as I’m sure they did for very many people. I am an introvert by nature, but the last two years, particularly the winters, took my natural inclinations to an extreme place. The result is that after a brief period of productivity late in 2020, my creativity went barren.
And I mean barren. Nothing flowed at all. I could hardly string more than a few sentences together for an entire year, never mind anything approaching a coherent story. I felt dead inside.
I thought that just getting out of isolation would turn on the taps again, and that certainly did help. But my writing still wasn’t able to flow as easily or predictably as in the before-times.
This summer, I decided that a lifestyle change was in order. My primary motivation was related to my health, and in that respect, the changes I’ve made have been an unprecedented success.
But I didn’t expect such a big change in my creative output. That was a beautiful, unexpected bonus. Moving my body led to moving my mind, moving my thoughts, and producing stories again.
Everyone is different, and there are no guarantees in life, but if you’re feeling stymied and uninspired like I was, maybe the solution could be found in just getting out into the world and getting in some physical activity. Turns out that what’s good for the body is good for the mind—and arguably, good for the soul.
It worked wonders for me.
About this Contributor:
Evan Braun is a full-time author and editor. He has authored three novels, the first of which, The Book of Creation, was shortlisted in two categories at the 2012 Word Awards. He has released two sequels, The City of Darkness (2013) and The Law of Radiance (2015), completing the series. Braun is an experienced professional editor, and has worked with Word Alive Press authors since 2006. He is also a regular contributor at The Fictorians, a popular writing blog.