Getting outside is good for you. So why don’t we do it more often?
Whether you work from home or in a corporate office, it’s tempting to stay behind your desk and avoid going outside. We’ve all been conditioned to believe that working through the day will make us more productive, efficient, and accomplished.
But did you know that getting outside can enhance your productivity?
Stepping outside is not only essential for your emotional, mental, and physical needs, but it can boost your productivity in the long run. Furthermore, getting outside has been known to help with everything from improving your creativity to how well you sleep at night.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should step outside and move around during your workday.
A good night’s sleep
Having a hard time falling asleep? Then ensure a good night’s rest by getting outside first thing in the morning.
That’s right. Getting sunlight early on in the day can impact how well you sleep at night. Sunlight affects your circadian rhythm, your body’s internal clock that lets you know when to wake up or go to sleep. Being outdoors and getting sunlight in the morning will regulate your body’s internal clock and prepare itself for sleeping at night.
So if you’re usually tempted to check your email first thing in the morning, then swap it for a nice walk outside. You’ll start the day on a calm and positive note and you’ll have a much more restful sleep at night.
Same goes for your afternoon coffee routine. If you feel your eyes starting to droop around 2 p.m., then avoid the afternoon caffeine fix, which will only disrupt your sleep later on, and head outside instead. The sunlight will re-energize you and the fresh air will clear your mind.
Boost your creativity
If you’re struggling with writer’s block or stuck on a problem at work, then do yourself a favor and head outdoors.
Walking is a great way to unwind and free up your creativity. Maybe that’s why everyone from entrepreneurs to writers to artists all rely on long walks for creativity and problem solving. Charles Dickens was said to have walked as many as twenty miles in a single day.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to rack up as many miles as Dickens to get the full benefits of walking. A quick stroll around the block during your lunch break or taking a leisurely walk at night can be just as satisfying.
Walking helps you get out of your own head. You’re feeling the breeze on your face. Enjoying the scenery around you. Rather than dwelling on the past or future, you’re being mindful of the present moment. Practicing mindfulness allows your subconscious to take over and problem solve for you without you even realizing it.
In fact, a study by Stanford University found that walking increased an individual’s creative output by 60 percent.
So if you’re struggling to come up with ideas or find solutions to a work problem, the best thing you can do is take a walk outside.
The modern workplace is stressful to say the least. With never ending email messages and numerous demands on our time, it’s no wonder that workplace burnout is increasing worldwide.
It’s easy to overlook work-related stress, especially if you’re not experiencing the typical symptoms like high blood pressure or extreme exhaustion. But you could be experiencing uncommon signs of burnout without even realizing it.
If you find yourself snapping at coworkers, having trouble sleeping at night, or being unable to come up with ideas, then these could be signs that you’re burning out.
A simple step you can take to combat work-related stress is to go outside and take a walk. A short walk outside can help lower the stress hormone cortisol.
So the next time you get a work email that puts you in “fight or flight” mode, take a breather and head outside. You’ll return to the office feeling much more calm and centered.
As you can see, doing something as simple as going outside can have a positive effect on different areas of your life.
When you go outside, you’re getting a better night’s sleep, which means you’re going to feel better the next day. And when you’re feeling better, your communication with your boss and coworkers will improve. And your work performance will improve as well.
So if you’re worried that going outside for a few minutes is going to derail your productivity, then think about all the benefits you’ll be missing out on. Taking a brisk walk outside will help you reset, improve your attention and memory, and put you in a better headspace for your work.
5 ways to actually step away from your desk and get outside
Now that you know the variety of benefits from heading outside, here are some ideas on how to actually take a break and leave your desk.
Go for a walk in the morning. You’ll get your circulation going and regulate your circadian rhythm as well.
Schedule your breaks. If you have trouble committing to your breaks then put them on your daily calendar. You’ll want to aim for 10-15 minute breaks every hour or so. And make sure you actually leave your desk for lunch.
Have lunch outside. On that note, try to have your lunch outside a few days a week. Pair it with a gratitude practice or journal writing to help you destress.
Get off at an earlier stop. If you commute to work by bus or train, then see if you can get off at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way. You’ll increase your steps and get energized for the day ahead. Same goes for your evening commute. A long walk after work will help you decompress from a busy day.
Walk around your floor. If you’re having one of those busy, chaotic days, or if the weather is really bad, then try walking around your building or floor. It’s an easy way to hit refresh and get your blood flowing.
Written by JiJi Lee