How to Trick Yourself Into Spending More Healthy Time Outside
It’s best to totally unplug, but work and nature happily can coexist in your life.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Nature is inarguably good for you, with a host of studies now showing that time in the outdoors has restorative benefits for your brain. The tricky part, of course, is finding time to break out of your office, since most entrepreneurs understandably are putting in plenty of hours to support their companies. Aside from walking meetings, strolling around the building on breaks and munching lunch outside, here's what you can do to get more fresh air and sunshine.
1. Pack up devices and work offline.
Got some whitepapers or media content to review? How about those finishing touches on your performance reviews, drafting a professional post for LinkedIn or an outline of questions for a potential supplier? You know you've got some calls to make. All of that work can be done without an Internet connection. So let your team know you're available via your cell, download/gather whatever you need in advance, and then block off the morning or afternoon to head to a park or your favorite nook in the woods.
2. Get creative for company events.
Who cares that your catered lunches "always" go in Conference Room B if they can fit just as well on a few tables in the courtyard? It's OK to break tradition or habit sometimes! Portable sound systems can come with you for speakers or presentations. You even can challenge your team to fun scavenger hunts related to your mission or projects. Just be sure to have a Plan B space or alternate date planned in case the weather doesn't cooperate with you.
3. Opt for outdoor exercise.
You don't need to hit the gym if you're biking to work or making an obstacle course out of local playground equipment after you clock out. Even getting off your bus a few stops early and walking the scenic route the rest of the way counts. Propose a team sport like soccer, basketball or even more retro options like dodgeball. Recruit as many workers as you can to boost comradery.
4. Rethink general tasks.
Who says you can't fold laundry on your porch? Why not apply your makeup in some natural light? Or how about using the grill to make some lunches and dinners you can pack up for the week? Maybe you could support local merchants by shopping at an outdoor market. Many jobs you have to do as general self-care don't have an indoor-only stamp.
5. Forget relaxing with screens.
As much as you might feel like plopping on your couch and turning on the tube for Shark Tank, screens actually are pretty crappy for getting your brain to wind down. Grab a book on emotional intelligence, investment or leadership instead. Then sprawl out on a blanket on your lawn and read until the street lights come on.
7. Go on observation outings.
Great leaders have a knack for seeing what is happening around them and making curious inquiries based on what they see. This ability to observe and react well cognitively is something you can get better at with practice. Take a quick 5 or 10 minutes to walk through a new nature location. People watch a bit or just connect to the environment. What do you hear or smell or catch with your eyes? Jot down your observations so you can meditate a little more on them later.
8. Volunteer at outdoor events.
Maybe the community garden needs a few weeds pulled, or maybe there's a market fest or fair where it makes sense to set up a booth for your business. These kinds of events don't just pull you into the sun. They also help you connect with the people you're trying to serve so you better can understand what their needs and desires are. Your presence demonstrates that you have a sense of ethical responsibility to your space and people. Consider offering incentives to team members who participate in these kinds of engagements.
Time outside rejuvenates you into a better quality of life, and when you get that mental and physical pick-me-up, it inevitably transfers to your work and employees. Companies like Unilever also are organizing health and wellness campaigns that encourage getting dirty and relaxing in nature, too. That means that breaking free from your office is actually smart business, as you can lead with a better mood, be more creative and convey a competitive understanding of what it takes to thrive.
But if you need even more incentive to try the suggestions above, consider that the next generation of entrepreneurs is watching you lead. Like adults, today's kids get an abysmally low amount of time outdoors, in some cases as little as 16 minutes a day. The more you model for them in this arena, the more likely it is that they'll take care of themselves through nature and respect the environment, too.