Many reports have boasted the health benefits of nature and its positive effects on one’s physical and mental well-being. Did you know getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine has also been known to boost productivity?
Studies have shown that incorporating nature into our daily lives—even in small ways—can significantly impact our mood, work ethic, and output.
As this NBC article explains, even small changes can make a big difference. Add a plant to your home or workspace. Sit in the grass on your lunch break. Try to spend some time outdoors every day.
Of course, some people are natural Type A personalities when it comes to work ethic with a strong drive to match. There’s a desire not just to complete a job, and for many, crush every task put to them.
Even the most relentless achiever can benefit from taking a nature break now and then.
In fact, it could be said it’s even more critical for those with passionate, driven personalities to step back and get into nature whenever possible. It’s vital to prevent burnout—a common side effect from working so hard for days or weeks on end.
Here are five ways nature can help you boost your productivity.
1. The calm of nature counters the chaos of daily life.
Work and family demands can be overwhelming at times. The endless drone of television, podcasts, or Zoom calls, traffic and noise from the outside, or whatever background noise can be deafening.
No matter your environment, it’s challenging to find complete peace and solitude. On the other hand, nature balances the chaos and stressors of our endless to-do lists with calm and serenity.
Nature doesn’t hurry and rush from one task to the next. It moves at its own, much slower pace. By being in those tranquil surroundings, we practically slow down by default.
2. Turning away from technology can be beneficial.
Our living and working spaces have blurred together over the past year. As a result, most of us have become even more dependent upon technology. This has made it very difficult for those trying to reduce or eliminate our accessibility outside of working hours.
Technology has undoubtedly changed the way we live and work. We have become more productive in various ways because of it. However, too much screen time can have adverse effects on our health.
Eye strain, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, heart disease, obesity are just a few of the long list of health issues that can develop from too much screen time.
Devices aren’t the only things that need a recharge—humans need it, too! Go offline, step into nature, and make yourself scarce for a time. (Of course, let someone know where you’ll be and when you’re expected back, especially if you’re going alone!) There is no wi-fi or cell reception in nature, and sometimes that’s a perfect thing.
3. Nature = a complete sensory experience.
Few things fulfill each of our five senses, like being in nature. Think about it:
- The sound of birds, rushing water, crunching leaves
- The smell of greenery, wet earth, wood smoke (if someone is camping nearby)
- The sight of incredible vistas, woodland creatures, and other majestic views
- The taste of plants (the edible ones, of course) or the feel of a light drizzle on your tongue
- The feel of tree bark, rocks, dirt, plants, and any other natural substance you may encounter along your path
For those who practice grounding, it is most effective when done outdoors. Thanks to grounding shoes and other related products, you can ground outside on just about any kind of terrain.
Connecting directly with the earth through grounding can take “walking outside” to a new and even more powerful level. Try touching the earth, trees, or rocks for a few minutes on your next walk; absorb the energy and do good things for your body.
4. Taking short breaks outside can raise your energy level.
We have already discussed the potential health risks of too much sitting. Besides feeling sluggish and stiff, sitting and working for long periods can cause you to burn out and tire much more quickly.
Take short “nature breaks” to get some fresh air and Vitamin D (aka “the sunshine vitamin”) into your system. When you get back to your desk, you are more likely to feel calmer, refreshed, and ready to tackle the rest of your day.
5. Clearing your mind lets the ideas flow.
How many times have we been stuck for a solution to a problem, then stepped away from it, came back, and found a solution? As we mentioned earlier, stepping away from the screen or task at hand and going outside for a brisk walk can get us “unstuck.”
Our bodies produce feel-good hormones that are stimulated by physical activity. Oxygen pumps through our blood, our blood flows more effortless, and our entire system starts moving smoothly. (This action explains the expression “get the creative juices flowing,” in a sense).
Nature can help us in countless ways. After being outside and surrounding ourselves with green space, we feel happier, calmer, and ready to conquer that to-do list.