We can spend days searching for solutions to complicated problems connected to our working lives. But, sometimes the answer is right under our noses, and not complex at all. If you’ve had a bad day at work, or even a bad month, why not try something new to attempt to turn the tables? Here are some ways that directing your attention toward nature could heal and repair your career.
- Time spent in nature will reduce stress levels.
It’s important to remember that we humans aren’t designed for sitting in office buildings all day, gazing out toward a vast sea of white walls and cubicle dividers. We are meant to be in nature. It doesn’t matter whether you walk, run, ride a bike, or just simply sit outside. If you are in nature, you will receive a physiological benefit, particularly in terms of the way it will reduce stress. One study even found that office workers with “forest views” demonstrated lower stress levels and greater job satisfaction than coworkers with “non-forest views.”
“Shinrin-yoku” is a Japanese term meaning “forest bathing,” which simply means spending time taking in a forest environment. A few years ago, research was conducted to analyze the impact of shinrin-yoku to determine whether or not “forest medicine” could be used to help with stress management. A group of test subjects spent time in a forest for one day, while the other half of the group spent time in a city. Each individual’s cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate were analyzed after the experience. The next day, the groups switched environments and were tested again. The results showed that spending time in a forest indeed lowered cortisol, pulse rate, and blood pressure when compared with the impact of city environments. Being outside reduces tension, stress, and improves your health. If you want to take the ups and downs of your work day in stride, try making it a greater priority.
Humans weren't meant to stare at cubicle walls all day. Go out in nature, and heal your career.
- Because, sometimes you just have to get away…
If you have a work-related issue you can’t solve, you might try taking a break from it in order to be able to find a fresh approach. Too often, we take a break from one work problem by simply setting it off to the side and taking that time to tackle another. Instead, try actually taking a break once in a while and getting away. Sometimes, nature is the only place we can go to truly get away. Even at home, our email inbox looms over us, and the stacks of files on the kitchen table beckon. Instead, go out into nature, take a real break from your troubles, and see if you don’t find some new solutions and insights waiting for you there. You might even consider being so bold as to leave your cellphone in the car during these times.
- Science has proven that there are many cognitive benefits of interacting with nature.
Spending time in nature doesn’t just change the way we feel, it changes the way we think too. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan showed that, because of differences in the stimuli presented in nature versus the types of stimuli encountered in urban environments, time spent in nature restores our ability to focus our attention. In fact, time outside, either walking or sitting, was found to replenish and restore our attentional capacity. Another study highlighted the way walking in nature improves creative thinking. So, if you’d like to think more clearly and be able to focus for longer periods of time and solve problems more creatively, try spending a little time outside to see if that does the trick.
Nature is good for us, on so many different levels. Perhaps the reduced stress levels, the lowered blood pressure, improved clarity of thinking, and the other health benefits associated with being outside, are why spending time in nature also helps us sleep better. Perhaps it’s also because being in green spaces encourages better exercise habits, which also helps us sleep. Whatever the case may be, you’ll most likely sleep a little better too. And that could do wonders for your career.
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