Well-Being//

How to Incorporate Time Outside Into Your Daily Routine

Taking breaks outside can help you make better decisions, inspire motivation, and increase productivity and creativity.

By Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock
By Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

Living a healthy lifestyle is especially tough when you’re stuck behind a desk all day. For one, getting enough physical activity or time outdoors is a hurdle — and the big irony is that it’s easy to feel more tired after long stretches without movement or fresh air. Despite these challenges however, it is possible to stay active and get outdoors while being desk-bound — plus, it’s essential for your productivity and well-being.

While society often perpetuates the mentality that ‘working until you drop’ optimizes your performance, it’s actually the opposite. Ultimately, overworking and working a sedentary job late into the evening is a recipe for burnout and, at the very least, a cognitive fog. In other words, you need to take breaks — which involve leaving your desk — in order to keep performing your best. “Sometimes you might not be able to focus because you really just need a break,” Melanie Lopes, M.F.T., a psychotherapist, explains. Fortunately, you can combat a lack of concentration by going for a short walk, she adds. “Allowing yourself time to recharge or to temporarily step away from what you’re doing can help improve focus and boost productivity.”

But how can you ensure you commit to getting outside everyday? Schedule it and treat it like an important appointment with yourself — one that your phone doesn’t get to come along to.

Keep your break tech-free

You don’t necessarily have to leave your phone at your desk, but Jacob Barkley, P.hD., a professor at Kent State University who specializes in exercise physiology, advises keeping it in your pocket when you step outside. Having your phone out can cause “brain drain,” according to a study conducted at University of Texas at Austin. This research found that simply having your phone within arm’s length or your line of vision significantly reduces cognitive ability and attention, preventing you from experiencing the benefits of being outdoors. By leaving it behind, you’re able to come back refreshed, and ready to connect to your work and your colleagues. 

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