Work Benefits to Getting Outdoors
Now, more than ever, the four walls of your [home] office or cubicle may feel a bit more stifling than they used to – and for good reason. When stuck, I often turn to “write what you know” to help motivate and at the very least, get things moving. My last Caster blog focused on mostly at-work ways to combat stress to help keep you at your best but for this one, we’ll be looking at out-of-the-office methods and discussing how getting outside of work might be one of the best things you can do for work.
According to the book Your Brain on Nature, co-authored by Harvard physician Eva M. Selhub, a small drop of nature is like a drop of morphine to your brain as your reward neurons are stimulated and can help turn off or dial back your stress response. Since a stressed brain is an unhappy brain, when you’re stress response is turned off, higher brain centers can be accessed which can take the form of greater productivity, creativity, concentration, memory, and reduced mental fatigue.
A personal goal of mine for the past several years has been to hike all of the mountains in New Hampshire over 4,000 feet to complete the NH48 – in fact – the mountains have been where I’ve spent the majority of my weekends recently as I rapidly approach my goal. Anecdotally, when I place myself in nature and outside, I feel recharged and re-centered when I return to work.
When it comes to injecting some outside time into your work week, there are a number of ways to easily achieve this goal. The best part, these tips are not limited to just office-life, you can do these even if you’re working from home.
- Bring nature to you – Before we even get into it, integrating plants into your at-work or home office can be an easy way to experience the benefits of nature. If you’re unable to leave your space to spend time outside, surrounding yourself with some plants or even adjusting your seating so you have a view of an outside space can be beneficial.
- Take lunch outside – You have to eat at some point during the day, and eating at your desk isn’t good for you. The recommended amount of time you should spend outdoors is 20-30 minutes which is perfect for grabbing something to eat, taking a screen break, and coming back re-energized.
- Take work outside – Physically bring your laptop with you to a park, your deck, the roof, under a tree, or wherever you can remain connected. Changing your environment can provide enough mental stimulation to help you work through your to-do list. Alternatively, if you’re in a situation where you’re holding small meetings and everyone is comfortable and present, propose taking that meeting outside. The fresh air combined with the break from the desk is relaxing and may trigger some new and exciting ideas you would not have stumbled upon previously. Our office has an awesome shaded picnic table that does the trick for us!
If higher brain functionality and reduced stress sound like two things you could use right about now, we implore you to try any of the tips listed above. Have any tips I missed? I would love to hear them, reach out to me on Twitter at @CasterPete or to Caster Communications at @CasterComm.