Eating lunch in the office may seem like the easiest move, especially in the midst of a busy workday. But a quick break, especially if you can get outdoors to eat, can do wonders for your concentration, stress levels, and creativity.
Nature’s Health Benefits
Naturalist John Burroughs wrote, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” The health benefits of being outdoors have been well-documented. While larger doses of time outdoors are ideal, even a quick picnic in the park can have benefits. Here are some of many ways eating outdoors can boost your health.
The stress-busting powers of nature have been well-documented. Multiple studies have shown that spending time outdoors lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, decreases stress hormones, and eases muscle tension. A study from the University of Michigan found that people who walked outside once a week felt less stress and reported more positive emotions and feelings. Another study done by Stanford found that these stress reduction effects are especially prevalent when people walked outdoors through wooded areas, compared to busy streets.
Getting outdoors to eat lunch can is a natural mood booster. Being indoors for most of the day is linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety. If you’ve been spending your lunch hour in a windowless office or cubicle, you’ll be amazed what a difference lunch outside can make.
Studies show that being outdoors in nature can improve attention, memory and concentration. So while you may hesitate to take lunch away from your desk, making time for a break outside could make you more productive the rest of the workday.
Lower Risk of Chronic Diseases
High levels of the stress hormone cortisol are associated with multiple chronic diseases including high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease and stroke. Being outdoors, even for brief periods of time, can lower your cortisol levels. Over time this can reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Put It Into Practice
Take your meal outdoors this spring to get similar benefits. Try a picnic in a nearby park, a brown-bag lunch in the office courtyard, or dinner on your outdoor deck. Even short spurts of time outside can go a long way towards lowering your stress levels, boosting your mood, and decreasing your risk for diseases.
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