No thanks to Covid-19, you’re probably spending most of your time indoors. That’s due to the various sheltering-in-place advisories and the consequent rise of work-from-home (WFH) arrangements.
In fact, ABC News reports how the pandemic has accelerated the WFH trend, resulting in nearly half of the Australian population shifting from office-based work to home-based.
Even with businesses starting to pick up, the majority of the Australian workforce seems inclined to prefer remote work. And this would mean spending more time indoors, which could be detrimental to your health. That's because you'll be missing a key element in holistic self-care: the outdoors. Indeed, going outside to improve your overall health is often overlooked. Find out below why you mustn't make the same mistake.
Benefits of Outdoor Time
The main benefit of spending time outdoors every day is that you'll get to soak in some light. And as previously discussed in our blog on How Light Affects the Body, the only source of true light is the sun, and it impacts the body in several positive ways. Mainly, it keeps your circadian rhythm in sync with nature, allowing it to secrete hormones at intervals that jibe with your internal clock. This means you'll be getting the hormones you need when you need them, and at the right amounts.
In addition, science and health writer Kevin Loria details in his 12 science-backed reasons to go outside how spending time outdoor can help reduce stress and anxiety. This is because the outdoors changes the way the body responds to stressors. Specifically, the production of the stress hormone cortisol is reduced, thereby minimising the effects of stress on the body. Time outside the house can even combat mental fatigue, especially if you spend some of it in restorative environments.
Spending time outdoors is even more important in these trying times, with sociology instructor Deena Shaffer highlighting how time in nature fosters resiliency. That's because nature, according to the book Resilience: Powerful Practices to Bounce Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster, inspires awe, which then inspires resilience — or 'the capacity to face and deal skillfully with the difficulties of life'.
How to Squeeze in Some Outdoor Time
Indeed, WFH setups are a godsend for the most part, as you have some scheduling flexibility, and won’t have to commute to and from the office. Ironically, this same flexibility can make it tricky to find time for everything, as work often takes precedence above all else, including even self-care. To avoid this trap, journalist James Gonzales recommends in his 30 tips for WFH professionals that you plan out your day so that you not only maximise your productivity periods, but also look after your wellbeing. In this way, you’ll avoid working from sun-up to sundown, and set aside time for family bonding, household chores, and self-care.
A good start would be to create an everyday morning routine where you do bodyweight exercises outside your home, or take a leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood. By doing so, you not only get that much-needed sunshine, but also bank in some equally important exercise. This routine, not to mention, is a great way to start any day since spending some time outdoors has been shown to improve focus too, while exercising can boost mood and increase your energy levels. Consequently, you'll be ready to attack the day ahead.
Lastly, here's a neat trick to consider: 'Bring' the outdoors inside your home. The Sydney Morning Herald emphasises how you can actually replicate outdoor environments indoors by looking at pictures of natural wonders and playing audio recordings of nature. They may not be the real thing, but evidence suggests that they can still lower your stress level, and improve your mental health. Open any windows near to where you work so you can get the benefits of sunshine throughout the day.