So many of us dream of working from home. Imagine, your hour-long commute through busy traffic or on a packed subway turns into a simple walk from the bed to the computer. You don’t have to face that colleague that always has it in for you. You’re not under the watchful eye of a boss. You might even be able to manage your own time, so a long lunch or a lie in isn’t going to raise eyebrows in the office.
Sounds idyllic, right?
But, like anything, this arrangement comes with downsides, too.
It’s all too easy to end up spending multiple days at home, with quick dashes to the grocery store or to run errands becoming the only time you get out of the house.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always healthy. There are numerous reasons that getting outside is important. Here are some of the benefits of backing away from the laptop and stepping out of that front door:
It’s a little-known fact that pollutant levels are between 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors. While opening your windows while you work might be a good quick fix while you’re working, it simply can’t compare to getting outside and taking in the air. Carve out time in your schedule to get out and about to take a walk. If you live in the city, heading to a park, where pollution is lower, is a great choice.
On the topic of nature, it’s been scientifically proven that time spent among trees and plants increases short-term memory, restores mental energy, relieves stress, reduces inflammation, increases your vision, and aids concentration. As if that weren’t enough, it’s also been proven to sharpen thinking and creativity, boost your immune system, improve mental health, and reduce your risk of an early death. Researchers have found that spending time in nature may even stimulate the production of proteins that ward against cancer. If that doesn’t convince you, we don’t know what will.
When you work from home, it’s all too easy to slip into a sedentary lifestyle. Studies have shown that excessive sitting can be linked with obesity, some cancer types, type 2 diabetes, and even early death. Being still for long periods slows down the metabolism, which compromises the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, and to break down body fat. Experts advise getting at least 150 minutes of exercise a week – about 21 minutes a day.
While you don’t have to deal with that cantankerous colleague and overbearing boss, being alone can have its downsides, too.
The UCLA Newsroom reports, “A growing body of research shows that the need to connect socially with others is as basic as our need for food, water, and shelter.” UCLA psychology professor Matthew Lieberman says, “Being socially connected is our brain’s lifelong passion. “It’s been baked into our operating system for tens of millions of years.”
So while we know that a work from home schedule can be busy as any other, getting out to see friends and family is time well spent.
Many of us are constantly online. But University of Gothenburg researchers discovered that people who are constantly on the computer or their cell phone are at higher risk for depression, stress, and sleeping disorders. Why not put your phone in your pocket – or even leave it at home – and get out into the real world.
Our suggestion: Take a 30-minute walk in the park every day with a friend. Not only will you get out in nature, you’ll also be exercising and interacting socially. It’ll do wonders for your mental health, your physical health, and probably your work life, too.
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