An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on 11/19/15.
Feeling a little down sitting at your desk? Or is the stress of the day making you irritable and overwhelmed? The remedy may be closer than you think – a short stint outside could be just what the doctor ordered!
In 2005, Richard Louv coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder” to describe the feelings of anxiety and depression that many people feel when they spend too little time outside. There’s a reason we all fondly remember recess from our childhood – taking a brief break from the hard chairs and florescent lights of our offices and classrooms can make a huge difference in our health and mood. This beneficial time outside is something adult Americans are largely missing. Read on to discover the health benefits of taking your work outside, as well as some tips on how to make working outside possible and productive.
Benefits of Working Outside
The health benefits of getting outside during your workday are well documented. According to research by the University of Rochester, getting outside can increase people’s overall sense of wellbeing and vitality. Harvard physician Eva M. Selhub explains that some of these health benefits can be attributed to the fact that spending time in nature stimulates the reward neurons in your brain. This reward response turns off the chemical response to stress in your brain, which means you have lower cortisol levels, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improved immune response.
Besides the health benefits of lowered stress, sunlight also helps your body produce some health-supporting chemicals. The vitamin D production that sunlight stimulates in your body supports your immune function, helping you ward off minor illnesses. This vitamin D production is also shown to increase fat metabolism, which means that getting outside is not only good for your immune system and heart, but also good for your waistline! Sunlight also helps your body produce nitric oxide, a compound that helps lower blood pressure.
Getting outside during your workday can also improve your cognitive function. Research from the University of Michigan has found that interacting with nature for an hour can improve memory and attention by 20 percent. Getting outside can also result in greater creativity and productivity and reduced mental fatigue. Plus, the UVB exposure you get from sunlight helps regulate melatonin which improves your mood and energy levels.
Make Working Outside Work for You
The Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library has plenty of resources to help you and your team have a comfortable and productive experience while working outside. Here are some tips for making working outdoors work for you:
- Get mobile
Mobile technology has made working from anywhere possible. The Health Sciences Library has plenty of laptops and iPads available for checkout that make working from anywhere on our beautiful campus a breeze. Plus, with all the online journals, databases, and ebooks available on the library website, getting high-quality research on the lawn is no problem. Just make sure you charge up your devices before heading out!
- Get comfortable
You can kick back and relax in one of the lounge chairs available for checkout at the library. These chairs make it easy and comfortable for you to set up an outside workspace where you can reap all the benefits of the natural sunlight and nature views available on campus.
- Get social
What’s better than taking quiet time outside to get your own work done? Getting your whole team involved! The library has 12 lounge chairs available for check out – perfect for an outside staff meeting. This is a great way for your whole team to de-stress and re-energize, all while profiting from the increased productivity gained from time in nature. Alternatively, you could try organizing walking meetings around the grounds. Getting outside during your work day can take some out-of-the-box thinking, but it’s well worth the effort.