A friend of mine poked me to write a sugesstion to a post on LinkedIn, where someone was thinking of how to add more nature into the workday. That became this post.
How to add more nature into your workday?
There´s plenty you can do, even at the center of city! Though there´s enough proof of already images of nature helping you to destress and the power of listening to audio tapes of birds, I tend to go for the real deal.
Starting from the working environment, switching to natural materials where possible and sustainable, can go a long way. Some studies show that we respond better to e.g. wooden surfaces than to e.g. metal. Remember to work with only sustainable forestry products! Add loads of plants (or as many as you can) to our surroundings to help pump your space with fresh oxygen and clean impurities from the air, not to mention, offering you the eye candy when you take a moment to refocus. Interacting with plants – someone´s got to water them – is also a wonderful way to get you out of your chair and moving. A mini break to water and prune the plants may offer you some micro restoration. Getting some blooming plants provides you with the wonderful details and also the opportunity to prune them (e.g. remove the dead flowers). Just make sure you get the non-poisonous plants! Don´t forget herbs like basil and thyme, that make a good addition to your office kitchen. The choices are endless there too. Ask around wheter there are any green fingers among your colleagues: the office plants also need repotting and changing their soil. Though it´s not exactly horticultural therapy, it definitely has some therepautic elements that can benefit anyone interested.
Now for the outside: depending on where your office is located, you could easily take a few short walks during your work day. Like smokers, we non-smokers also deserve to step outside once in a while. A mini break just outside the door to grab some fresh air and vitamin d, and to look at the leaves of the trees moving in the wind – without consciously focusing on it – or at the clouds if you have no greenery around you. For the duration of a cigarette, this mini break of not doing anything will recharge you. Just remember to step away from the smokers at the door!
During lunch break, you should plan as much time as possible outside. Walk around the block, or a certain distance, where you pass by at least some greenery or if that´s not available, anything that´s pleasant for you. Moving your body will get the blood flowing and help you relax; being exposed to the natural light, even if there wasn´t any green around, will still be good for your eyes and your sleep rhythm.
If, on the other hand, you are lucky enough to have plenty of greenery around you, then – depending on your mood and stresslevel – you might want to do some activities outside that will help you relax, refocus and refresh you. You might want to try focussing on a tree, a bush, a leaf or a stone one sense at a time and see how that makes you feel. Acknowledge the element you are connecting with and see how it makes you feel. Grateful? It´s okay to whisper your thank yous to the stones, the trees and the likes.
Before you head outside, take stock of how you feel. If you´d rather be alone than walk with the chattiest one in the office, make it clear in a friendly way. Scheduling in some alone, quiet time is a favour for the entire team, if that means you´ll be in a better mood later. You might inspire others to walk alone to listen to themselves more often as well.
Don´t forget the possibility of taking meetings – walking meetings – outside as well. You´d be amazed how easily you think and talk while walking.
Unless it is really loud. Avoid the loudest corners with lots of fumes from the traffic. If that´s all you have, you can still take these breaks inside and plan some inside the office movement to your day. If you have a stressful day, after doing some movements to get you out of the chair, try focusing on your favorite (nature) place. Close your eyes, imagine the place where you feel most at ease, and sit with that image and feeling for a while. See how you feel after.
In addition to requesting more greenery inside, why not discuss with your employer the opportunities to green your outside environment as well. Plant a few trees and bushes as a team building effort? Where possible, the employer could make significant improvements to the quality of their employees´ working days by adding a green break space outside.
Think also if you could make your way to and from work more natural. See how much longer or shorter your way to work becomes if you take a greener route. When you take this greener way, be mindful about what you see: the trees moving in the wind, the bushes changing colors, the birds jumping on the lawn. Pay attention and you´ll start seeing changes day to day. You might not notice but it might just make you feel better.
Wow, I just wanted to write a few words 😉 But, as you see, there are many possibilities!