There’s an age old saying – ‘A change is as good as a rest’. The definition? You can get as much good from changing the work you do as from having a rest. We all know that resting our minds and our brains is vital for our overall well being. In today’s world it has become contemporary to bring meditation and mindfulness into the corporate world. And, according to Neuroscientist David Strayer when “you let the prefrontal cortex rest, it supports creativity, positive wellbeing, reductions in stress.”

But, how often do we think about changing our surroundings within our work? How often do we think about the impact this can have on our work, on our ideas, on our creativity, on our goals and goal setting? The majority of us work in the same workspace, day in and day out. We work in a rhythm of routine, of familiarity and in what we could argue as a comfort zone. Like our comfort zone characteristics, are we ever challenging or questioning our surroundings and environment? Can we change our surroundings in order to feel like we’re having a rest?

This is something I experienced in a previous world of work. I was boxed in. I worked in an office, feeling trapped and all out of fresh ideas and thinking. It was during this time that I began to really tap into how I could begin to overcome this and challenge this. It made me think – boxed in… boxed thinking. I visualised myself in a box with the lid closed. I couldn’t see outside the box and therefore my thinking was limited, my new ideas were lacking and it was having an impact on generating actions towards my goals.


The best and most likely place to start is with reflection. How often (if ever!) have you looked at your surroundings and asked how they are serving you? It’s not something we regularly think about however perhaps now it’s time that we start to think about leveraging from our spaces differently.

When it comes to personal growth and development, adopting a growth mindset to key. According to Carol Dweck; “in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” With a growth mindset, we can also adopt this to how we see and use our surroundings.

Staying in our familiar surroundings can reflect a fixed mindset in ways. Fixed mindsets can reflect fixed traits and a belief that things cannot be changed or challenged. When we apply this fixed mindset to familiar surroundings and generating fresh thinking – is our creativity and growth being hindered?

I often work in the same environment, same desk, same chair, same view out the window. Recently, I put this thinking to the test – I hit a roadblock on a coaching piece of work. I didn’t know where to go next or how to get around this block. I sat there, at my desk, with pen in hand looking at my pages of notes. Nothing. No matter how hard I tried, nothing was coming. I decided to walk my talk as I would with my coaching clients. I dropped the pen, laced up my runners and changed my surroundings. I walked for an hour. I let my mind wander. Sometimes I thought about the challenge that I was stuck on, other times I day dreamed and tried to be in the present. What I noticed starting to happen was clarity on my thinking. Various ideas popped into my head and as they did, I made a quick note of it and kept walking. By the time I returned to my desk, I took the laptop and sat somewhere different. A place that has more light and fresh air. Within 30 minutes, I was around the roadblock and moving forward again.

Essentially, I used the change of surroundings to generate new thinking and in ways it acted as a coach for me. It created an environment and a space for me to sit in the discomfort of the mind block and gave me the time to begin to think differently.


Being outdoors may not be everyone’s cup of tea. While there is an abundance of research to support mindset and the outdoors, this is all about what works for you. When talking about bringing this all together and bringing it to life, it’s all about making it realistic and doable for you. It’s not one size fits all, it’s one size fits one. It’s important that what you create for you, fits you. This also isn’t about changing things drastically, but more so tapping into different surroundings to unlock the potential. It may only mean 5 minutes in the shower (yes, this works too!).


Ask yourself the following?

  • What is within your control?
  • Where do you find solace and areas of quiet time?
  • What’s the first step that you can take?

Allow yourself the time to think and question these answers. The first answer does not always mean it’s the best answer for you. When these answers being to arrive, it’s time then to ask yourself the question:


This is a question I use a lot with my 1-1 coaching clients which allows them to challenge themselves and their thinking when digging deeper into what works for them.

Ultimately, give yourself the permission to take a step back to think about if you have any elements of your life where you are boxed in, where you are maybe feeling ‘stuck’ or out of rhythm with yourself. Ask yourself if it is limiting your thinking and creating a further feeling of ‘being stuck’ or lost. If not, great! If yes, I think you know what to do….

Anne Marie,
The Inside Out Coach