Work-Life Balance – Spend More Time Working Outside of the Office

Things are done differently nowadays as it was done before. People live in the still spreading suburbs or urban centers while rural communities are shrinking. Green space is disappearing. And we’re suffering.

Nature is the natural state of the animal known as man. It is home. It’s in our blood and in our genes. We might have adapted to spending lots of time indoors, but not completely.


The evidence is all around us, if you just pay attention:

The gloomy teen, whose been dragged by his parents to the redwoods for a hike, who has to leave behind his iPhone, but still enjoys himself despite his best efforts to the contrary.

The office worker who goes on vacation to Costa Rica, does nothing but sit on the beach at the edge of a jungle teeming with howler monkeys and impossibly brightly-colored birds for two weeks, and comes back healthier, happier, stress-free, and down ten pounds.

The benefits of working outdoors aren’t always obvious. What does your boss care if you feel more relaxed when you take your work outside? What’s in it for you, besides feeling better and some random health benefits? How will it affect a person’s ability to work?


Stress Alleviation

Job-related stress is the most obvious problem with work. Pushed too hard plus too little pay equals stress. Doing something we’d rather not instead of doing something we actually enjoy would also result to stress. Competition and too much anxiety can be stressful as well.

This is why most people assume that stress comes entirely from the actual work. You toss in a long commute and a boss you hate, and things get even worse.

I think the physical work environment – the office, the cubicle, the indoor lighting, the walls boxing you in, the uniform sameness of it all – also plays a role, perhaps even the primary role – spending a third of our days in physical environments that are wholly alien to our genes results to increased stress.

Happier and less stressed workers are better workers. If stress can be reduced by working outside, we’ll probably have mitigated a big portion of the stress in our lives.


Attention Restoration

We use voluntary or active attention when we choose to direct our attention towards a certain task. Of course, this takes a lot out of us. It’s tiring. We need a break from it.

On the other hand, involuntary attention refers to “soft fascination.” It doesn’t require active engagement. It’s almost like we’re “meant” to see this type of stuff on a regular basis without it occupying too much brain power.

Thus, we can say that we need both to be whole and healthy and attentive. If we spend all our time engaged in voluntary, active attention our performance declines, we get mental fatigue, and we’re less able to respond to novel situations and plan ahead. In short, we get overstrained.

But if we move our work outside, we can restore our attention capacity, our balance between voluntary and involuntary attention. It will almost certainly help your performance.


John Muir once said, ”Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”


Next read…Questions to ask yourself before making that career switch


Article contributed by Startup Jobs Asia‘s Team.

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