Let’s Take This Outside: How to Be Happy at Work

Peach blossomsIn the immortal words of Dutch pop sensation, BZN, spring is in the air! And according to The Weather Company’s latest three-month outlook, it’s going to be a warm one — thanks to climate change. And while climate change is never good news, the extra sunshine could at least be good for your mental health.

Researchers often note the connection between light exposure and increasing serotonin levels, which in turn can decrease depressive symptoms. Sunlight also increases vitamin D levels in the body, which boosts mood. And studies show that spending time in nature can decrease stress, lower blood pressure and reduce symptoms of depression.

So there’s a warm spring outside, poised to boost some moods. But there’s a problem. How can we take advantage of (the only possible benefit of) climate change when we’re stuck inside, working?

You’ve probably already guessed the solution: Head outside! Working outdoors can increase productivity, happiness and health. Now, before you say, “That’s never gonna happen,” let’s get practical about getting outside.

  • Get some shade. Who said you have to sit in the sun the whole time? The answer is no one said that. Plus, sun and electronic gadgets don’t really mix — just like sun and your skin. So apply that suntan lotion. Then get cozy under a big tree or an umbrella chair.
  • Get connected and powered up. Tether to your smartphone or set up camp in an open wifi zone. If you’re lucky enough to live near a park, check this link for finding wifi hotspots in public spaces. And don’t forget your power source, kids. Nothing worse than getting settled into that perfect spot and having your drained battery ruin everything.
  • Get a backup plan that gets you off your butt. Ok — so the powers-that-be aren’t willing to let you work from a park. Or from your backyard. Don’t give up, my intrepid friend; instead, try initiating walking meetings at your workplace. Walking meetings are ideal for brainstorming, as the walking and talking combination results in fewer distractions (phones, ahem) and improved concentration. In other words, people’s brains will work better. Win-win. Plus, if you happen to be dealing with depression, studies show that walking outside is especially effective for improving cognition. Need to convince your colleagues? Be brutally straightforward and remind them that studies also show that sitting around all day can be deadly.

So come on — take it outside. It’ll do everyone a world of good.

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