How spending time outdoors will grow your career

Life can get busy, and nature is a great way to help you slow down and stay calm – whether you move to the mountains or just open a window.

It may not be the most important thing on your to-do list every day, but getting outside should be added somewhere near the top. Being outside gives you the chance to push pause on everything that’s happening in your life and gain a new perspective.

Did you know that it can also benefit your career?

Nature is a great tool to use to jumpstart your work life, and it all starts by stepping outside.

Improve your memory

We’ve all had that moment when we walk into a room, then pause and try to remember what we went there for. The outdoors can help stop that from happening. According to a study done by the University of Michigan, students who walked through an arboretum performed 20% better on a memory test than students who walked around a city. Being outside triggered the students’ minds to retain information better, so why wouldn’t it help you when you’re taking notes at a big meeting?

Consider eating lunch outside the next time you go on break. If you can’t adjust your schedule to include a step outside, try using an app to play nature sounds at your desk.

Sharpen your focus

One of the side effects of leading a busy life is being overstimulated most of the time. Your brain becomes tired, so your mood turns sour and your work life suffers. Let your mind take a vacation by taking a nearby hike, and you’ll find your attention levels will be sharper the next time you walk into work. Sometimes we all just need a breather — and that includes your brain, too.

A better way to give yourself time with nature is to live near it. If possible, choose a living space surrounded by trees or parks. You can even build your own log cabin with a kit. If you have the chance, consider moving a bit farther from the city. Your mind will thank you, and you’ll find yourself responding to work issues with much better focus and clarity than before.

Inspire creativity

When your brain has a moment to relax, you’ll find yourself thinking in new ways. Being outside actually challenges your brain to get more creative with thought processes, as shown in a study by David L. Strayer. When subjects were immersed in nature for four days with no ability to use multimedia or technology, there was a 50% increase in creativity and problem-solving skills.

Leaving technology behind for four straight days may not be possible with your work schedule, but you can experience the same results. Taking a hike alone is a great option, but you can disconnect from technology for a few minutes for a similar effect. Or consider playing a nature video and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds. It won’t be as great as actually being outside, but it’s something to try if you need some inspiration.

Learn to be engaged

People who work all day tend to become tired around three in the afternoon. Their energy levels plummet, so they’re less likely to engage with coworkers or customers. Sound familiar? Going outside can help prevent it from happening. The key is oxygen. Breathing the air outdoors will circulate fresh oxygen into your bloodstream, which quickly improves energy levels.

When the body receives oxygen, you feel better. It’ll have the same effect as taking a walk, but without having to rearrange your day. Consider opening a window while you work. If that’s not an option, find an excuse to take a quick trip to your car. The short walk in the fresh air will help you jump at the chance to tackle a project or engage in a meeting, so ultimately your work life will benefit along with your body.

Life can get busy, and nature is a great way to help you slow down and stay calm. Whether you move to the mountains or open a window, nature will show you that it can do more than change your mood. The outdoors can be helpful for your career if you find a way to incorporate it into your daily life.

This article first appeared on YourCoffeeBreak.