your brand. your story. podcast: latest episode >

Mental Health Tips: The Relationship Between Outdoors and Mental Health


read time:

3 min


TV, streaming, and social media  can be addicting and lead to some bad behaviors. Americans spend about seven hours per day looking at screens. Give the screen time a rest and take a break in nature. Go outside, grab a coffee, and spend some time outdoors. It’s not just remote workers and workaholics that need to do this. Whether work-related or otherwise, screens pull us into a haze that can be hard to break out of. And healthy activities such as walking and socializing usually come in tandem with the outdoor excursion.

Outdoor time increases mood and productivity

Even if you aren’t a remote worker, nature breaks have been shown to increase productivity. Tech brand Lenovo, even went so far as to create a Recommended Daily Nature Allowance Guide to give workers “permission” and encouragement to take time for themselves. Research found that some workers, remote workers in particular, were not inclined (or felt guilty) to take nature breaks. But many brands have found that the small amount of recommended downtime has paid off. When managers were surveyed, 60% claimed that their employees were more productive after outdoor meetings or being allotted breaks where they could go outside.

“Just being surrounded by bountiful nature rejuvenates and inspires us.” — E.O. Wilson, Biologist and Writer

Fresh air aside, being near plant life has also been shown to be significant. Spending time around plants has even been shown to reduce cravings for alcohol, fast food, and other substances.

Here are some stats proving that fresh air and greenery exposure might make a productive difference:

• Biophilia is a thing: When asked about working somewhere tranquil, 90% of respondents chose somewhere outdoors including greenery.

• Cortisol levels go down: High cortisol levels are triggered by stress. Fresh air and nature reduce those levels naturally.

• Outdoor time may be subconsciously impactful: Participants in a London Study were asked to snap a shot of anything compelling in their work day. 2,500 users sent in a picture of a tree at the bus stop or outside of their workplace.

Ways to incorporate nature into your busy work life

Enjoying some nature time doesn’t just have to be a long wild hike through the jungle. Getting in about two hours per week of time with the outdoors can be accomplished in different ways, even if confined to a city landscape. Here are 5 benefits to keep nature present in your life and build up some green self-love throughout the week.

• Keep live plants in your workspace. Take turns watering with other coworkers if the space is shared. Many office complexes are aware of the benefits of plant life and are adopting “green walls.” Plants grow on a vertical surface and provide some relief from the tension of purely synthetic structures. These are getting surprisingly high-tech these days, but their sole purpose is to increase employee mood, morale, and productivity.

• Take pictures and keep them near your desk. Research has shown that looking at pictures of plant life can reduce stress. Scientists aren’t sure why, but there is research suggesting that it’s “fractal patterns.” Sunlight shining through trees, or some close up leaves with interesting texture give us that calming feeling.  

• Consider adopting more hobbies that help the environment, such as litter-picking. An outdoor volunteer activity can illuminate the bigger picture. What’s that great big world like outside of your cubicle or apartment? What can you do to make a difference? Even outdoor running and biking have been shown to make a difference in stress levels.

• Try out your green thumb at home. If an indoor houseplant is problematic, try a herb garden or even a cactus. There are even studies showing that fake plants make a difference in mindset.

• If you’re feeling very ambitious, do some home gardening. Get your hands dirty with some tomatoes or bell peppers if you’re city-limited. This doubles as an environmental hobby and an outdoor hobby. Learn which plants are easy to grow in limited spaces in this article. You could even make some avocado toast or a full green salad without leaving your home.

Self-care is a relatively new concept to a traditional nine-to-five life, but studies are showing that we need to pay more attention. Not just for our health, but for our productivity. Fresh air and some pretty flowers might be a good start, but don’t hesitate to take the time you need for what you need. Mental health is no joke.

Learn more about how to balance your work and home life in this episode of the Your Brand. Your Story. podcast with Freelance Copywriter, Sarah Townsend.

Mental Health
Janelle Zacherl

August 3, 2022