Spring is in the air
We all know the feeling: the first warm, sunny spring days and we are sitting in the office, behind our desk, typing on our computer. While all we would like to do is this:
Just remember: you’re not alone.
In the last twenty years, numerous studies have examined the human attraction to nature with evidence that links interactions with nature with positive gains in productivity, increased healing rates, and even enhanced learning. Biophilia is the name given to this innate human attraction to nature.
The term biophilia, stems from the Greek roots meaning love (Philia) of nature (Bio). It implies that humans hold a biological need for connection with nature on physical, mental, and social levels, and that this connection affects our personal well-being, productivity, and societal relationships.
Hence, nature serves as a positive restorative environment for humans and is an effective platform for stress management, health promotion, psychotherapy, and disease deterrence. Whether one is engaging with nature by walking through a park, by interacting with animals, or simply by having a view of greenery from one’s home or place of work, biophilia has many applications that help transform mundane settings into stimulating environments.
Let the sun shine
Studies show that our ability to directly access nature alleviate feelings of stress. Our body’s response to daylight is an important clue.
Research has revealed the importance of natural light at work, suggesting it improves mood and productivity. Scientists from Oxford University say employees who sit next to the window on sunny days are more alert, happier and harder working than those who sit in the middle of the office under artificial lights. This can have a real impact on the quality of your sleep and brain function. Put differently: The better light, the better sleep, the sharper you are.
No need to fight for the best desk-spot though. Below are some tips & tricks for a biophilic-proof workday that go beyond that office-plant standing next to your desk.
Tips & tricks
1. Pre-work walk
If your desk is in the middle of the office, well away from sunlight, go for a pre-work walk to give your brain a boost. Sunlight increases the body’s production of serotonin, a feel good chemical that boosts happiness and energy levels.
2. Spend a day outside
You can’t drag your desk, chair, and desktop computer to the local park. But no need to despair. Grab your laptop or tablet and get going. In our digital era, it’s easier than ever to take your work outside. This spring and summer, find ways to relieve your stress, deepen your thinking, and do better work, simply by taking it outside.
You know that to get work done, you need to be heads down, focused, and productive. You also need balance. Just like you need a cool down period after a workout, you sometimes need a cool down from your job. Working outside affords you the opportunity to gaze at the sky, observe ants build a hill, or watch birds in flight. All of which are the “cool down” equivalents of the workplace. So, work hard and walk in the woods—you’ll be smarter for it!
4. Brainstorm session
If you are unable to think of a catchy, creative way to present sales data or begin a newspaper column, take a walk. According to a recent study by researchers at Stanford University, walking markedly improves people’s ability to generate creative ideas. A brief stroll, even around your office, can significantly increase your creativity.
5. Walking Meetings
Aristotle was said to walk as he taught, founding what we now refer to as Ancient Greece’s Peripatetic School of Philosophy. The Sophists, philosophers predating Socrates, were also wanderers. They traveled place to place on foot delivering talks.
Next time you have a meeting, make it into a "walking meeting" — and let ideas flow while you walk and talk. Thinking, talking, and walking are inextricably linked through history. It is only a recent idea that we have to meet around tables, seated in chairs. Meetings are the perfect moments where you don’t need to be sitting down in a room. Discuss things outside, sit in the park, or walk around the block.
For more tips & tricks on walking meetings, here is an inspiring TED Talk by Nilofer Merchant, business innovator who has been helping to grow businesses —from Fortune 500s to web startups.