The saying “get some air” could not be more true when it comes to work-related stress.
While the pandemic might have made you become cozy with your sedentary routine and loungewear work vibes, Americans are facing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety from all the events in 2020. It’s not like 2021 has been much better. Politics aside, it seems like the remote work style will continue through much, if not, all of this year, which means it might be time to start heading outside when you feel overwhelmed, especially when it comes to work.
New research from the University of Tsukuba in Japan found that workers who frequented forests and other outdoor spaces daily, it may improve their ability to deal with stress caused by work.
The study, published in Public Health in Practice, said that everyday activities helped workers’ “sense of coherence”, which combines three mental elements: meaningfulness, comprehensibility, and manageability. These three traits can often be overlooked in the workplace when constant pressure seems to never take a break, but turning to nature or daily activities can help, according to the study.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 6,000 participants from an anonymous, self-report web questionnaire. They found that people who regularly went outside had stronger sense of coherence, which meant they have a greater resilience to stress.
It should be noted that not all countries and places have urban green spaces like Japan. In cities, it can be more difficult to find true nature, but in the remote age, taking a walk outside or to a nearby park would suffice.
“Our study suggests that taking a walk at least once a week in a forest or greenspace can help people have stronger SOC,” Professor Shinichiro Sasahara at the University of Tsukuba said in a press release. “Forest/greenspace walking is a simple activity that needs no special equipment or training. It could be a very good habit for improving mental health and managing stress.”
It’s an important study to think about when stress management at work can often go ignored. Poor stress management could lead to burnout, which 44% of all employees sometimes feel like they’re dealing with, according to Gallop poll. It could put a damper on your every day life, let alone damage your career and professional aspirations.
In order to avoid burnout, experts suggest a number of tips which start with listening to yourself and understanding what you’re going through. Be sure to not ignore how you feel and don’t feel ashamed if you need to take time off. Companies can also induce burnout based on overworking employees. When a manager gives an employee multiple projects at once, with each being equally as important, it can create a mental mountain that is impossible to climb.
“Companies need to focus on key priorities and deliver on those outcomes before moving on to the next project. This is obviously easier said than done – by definition, prioritizing certain efforts requires difficult decisions in which (likely important) efforts to de-prioritize. Rather than address being ‘checked-out,’ address what causes it.” Roger Neel, CTO, Mavenlink said earlier this year.