Working Outside has Many Health Benefits
My two-month solo journey across the United States last year gave me boundless opportunities to contemplate the natural world. There’s nothing like long drives through the most picturesque landscapes to learn what Mother Earth is capable of. While I was on my trip, I had many opportunities to experience the benefits of working outside. (I wasn’t exactly working, but I was blogging and writing about my experiences on a daily basis.)
There are endless revelations that I’ll share from my time on the road. There’s one that stands out more than the rest: the path to finding our true nature is through nature. This simple truth is packed with meaning that I am still unraveling.
A Moment of Truth
It was so easy to hear my inner voice when I was walking through the peaceful California Redwoods or the valleys of the Sedona desert. It felt like the quiet energy of nature helped to fuel me. When I was disconnected from nature I was frustrated by my inability to tap into this inner voice. I found myself forever chasing that elusive “flow” state until I understood that I could access it much easier when I was working outside.
As living things, we are connected to all living things. The natural world is not a place to visit and marvel at from time to time. We are actually a PART of nature. We are literally made of the earth and the other elements that surround us. We reap so many benefits when we make an effort to be a part of nature instead of separate from it.
A walk through the sequoia forrest
A New Way of Connecting
For years, I did not experience nature as my birthright. I was divorced from it, busily moving from task to task. Saving a few moments for connectedness, until the end of a long day. I often skipped this time at the end of the day. I approached the weekends, hoping to recharge and reconnect with the energy of nature, but the short-term benefits quickly faded. This was a vicious cycle. I stuck to my work-focused mindset to buy time to spiritually recharge with nature, but my work-focused mind became a barrier to my reconnection, a barrier made stronger every workday.
A Benefit in the Midst of Covid19
One of the benefits to the quarantine due to Covid-19 is that we have been forced to work from home. Gone are the days of commuting to our offices, stuffed with people and distractions, only to slog through the long list of tasks on our to-do list. Now we have choices in shaping our workdays because many of us are working from home. We have the opportunity to step outside and feel the grass beneath our feet and listen to the chatter of the birds in the trees. We get to break free of those old norms and create new ways to experience our workday.
A Park Bench and a Stranger
Recently, I was embarking on another journey of self-flagellation, lecturing myself for my lack of motivation. As I sat in my home, trying to focus on the task at hand, it hit me! I had become “divorced from nature” again, only this time by choice – my choice. Yes, I needed to be IN nature in order to access my creativity!
I drove to a nearby park to take my next Zoom call and finish my writing. I set myself up at an empty picnic table and was instantly infused with new energy and creativity that, just moments ago, had been far from my grasp. To my surprise, I look over to see someone else doing the exact same thing! He pulled his truck underneath the shade of a nearby tree, got out his laptop, and gave me a wave of recognition as he too, was reinventing his workplace by working from nature.
Laptop working outside
The Benefits of Working in Nature
Aside from the fact that we just feel better when we get a change of scenery and some fresh air, one of the most obvious benefits to working outside is getting your vitamin D. Most of us don’t get enough of it, and the main way that we get vitamin D is through sunlight. Getting into the out in nature is also great for reducing stress especially if you get somewhere green. You also get the benefits of fresh air. No matter how good the air filtration is indoors, it can never get as good as getting out in a forest or other green areas.
5 Tips to Make it Easy to Work Outside
This experience changed everything for me. Now I do my best to work from nature for at least a few precious moments every day. It has been a huge boost to me mentally, creatively, spiritually, and even my productivity has gone through the roof!
So, whether you’re setting up shop in your own backyard, or traveling to a nearby park, here are best practices to help you make the best of your outdoor office:
- Get a Lap Desk – I like this one because it has a mouse pad (yes, I’m still old school with my mouse) and a place to store your phone upright. This is great for stretching out on the back deck and it’s portable, so I take it to the park (or any place where inspiration strikes).
- Pack a blanket and even a back-jack in the car for those times you just want to head for the hills.
- If you don’t already have one, get a portable charger so your electronics have power when you are working outside.
- Have a “go-bag” on the ready so it’s easy to pack up and go. Include some comfy clothes (layers are a good idea for changing temps) as well as a water bottle, sunscreen, bug spray, and even a small pillow.
- Find your spots – Scope out some nearby parks, or even a neighborhood park bench, so you’ve got a game plan when the mood strikes.
When we combine our work-focused minds with the spiritual connection that nature provides, it can have a profound shift in our experience of life. I’d love to hear how you connect nature with your work. Let me know how this keeps spiritually energized.
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