There are times when a crazy work scene is actually a good thing. Maybe you just got a promotion, or started working on a project that's super challenging. If you work for yourself, maybe you're pushing yourself to new entrepreneurial heights.
So, crazy work doesn't have to be a negative. Unless, of course, it's detracting from the time you're spending doing what you love. If you love the feeling of fresh air and sunshine — but your job is keeping you from exploring, adventuring, and enjoying the great outdoors — then that's a problem.
Luckily, no matter how hectic your work and home life winds up being, there are ways to balance your professional life with your personal joys. If joy, for you, means getting outside, staying active, and enjoying nature, then we have some solutions for you:
Understand the Value of Nature & Step Into the Mindset
Sometimes, hectic schedules and overwhelming responsibilities can cause us to lose track of what really matters to us. The first step to making a life change is recognizing the value of our goals — then changing our mindset to get things done.
For some of us, being outside with the elements allows us to feel peaceful and clear-headed. For others, hiking and camping help us to challenge our physical and mental limits. Whatever your reasons are, the science is clear on the value of spending time outside:
- Mood. "Green exercise" has been shown to have positive impacts on general mood and self-esteem.
- Less stress. Green spaces are also associated with reduced stress and greater well-being.
- Exercise. Spending too much time inside is associated with a sedentary lifestyle, while spending time outside is a great way to encourage physical fitness.
- Vitamin D. Sunlight can increase your Vitamin D levels, which is important for everything from mood to bone health.
Health. Studies have shown that spending time in forests has "therapeutic effects" on hypertension. Other studies have shown that even just looking at outdoor spaces can help in the healing process.
Once you've zeroed in on the value of outdoor time, you can work on stepping into the mindset. It shouldn't be perceived as a chore, or something to "fit in" between activities that really matter. Spending time in nature has an intrinsic value; work on altering your mindset to appreciate how it can change your life and improve your well-being. It's not a chore. It's a privilege, a lifestyle, and a joy to get outdoors!
The One-Hour Life Shift: Change When You Sleep & Rise
Simple: go to sleep one hour earlier and go to bed one hour earlier. We know this seems extreme, but bear with us.
In the long run, cutting out an hour in the evening makes our evening leisure time feel even more precious. This means you're more likely to use it for something uplifting, like calling your best friend in another state or reading that book that's been sitting on your bedside table for months. More importantly, shifting your bedtime routine in this way gives you more daylight hours.
Use that extra time to get outside in the morning. There's nothing like the freshness of morning air, that specific quality of sunrise sunlight, that feeling that you're the only one in the world. Even better, getting outside early in the morning helps you feel like you've already accomplished something incredible. This means you're heading into work with a huge success already worked into your day.
Work on Boosting your Energy: Diet, Sleep, Supplements, and Hydration
Lack of energy detracts from every aspect of our lives, including our ability to enjoy the outdoors. If you're exhausted from your crazy schedule at work — and the effort of combining that work with family obligations — then the thought of going for a hike and getting exercise might be way too much for you. In this case, it's a really good idea to start boosting your energy so that you can maintain your motivation. Here's some simple tips:
- Processed sugar. Though our brains rely on glucose to thrive, too much processed sugar can negatively impact our energy levels. Try to avoid relying on processed sugars and foods for a boost, and instead focus on natural fruit sugars or green tea for a boost at work.
- Sleep. For adults, seven or more hours of sleep is key to vitality, health, and cognitive health. Make sure you're prioritizing quality sleep so you can retain sufficient energy to do things that matter.
- Supplement. Small changes make a big difference. Think about adding a supplement like L-Arginine to your routine to keep your immune system and energy at peak levels.
Hydration. The University of Connecticut highlights that even mild dehydration can decrease your energy levels substantially. Drink about 2 liters of water daily to help keep your energy up.
When you work on boosting your energy, you'll probably find that it's easier to find the time to get outside. (As if you really needed another reason to want to increase your energy levels!)
Make Use of Lunch Breaks
If you've ever wiled away a lunch break on your phone, then you know there's definitely room for improvement here. Changing your lunch break habits can have an incredible impact on your day, and give you that precious window to get outside and feel the sun on your skin.
If you can, pack a lunch that's easy, light, and practical. That way, you can take it with you as you use your break to check out an undiscovered biking trail in that park a ten-minute walk from your office. Or spend the first fifteen minutes eating your simple lunch, and then use the rest of your lunch break to take a walk.
Worried that spending time outdoors will cut into your work socializing time? It really doesn't have to. Odds are, you're not the only one wishing for more time outdoors. If you and your colleagues generally sit inside the employee cafeteria during break, suggest a change of pace by taking the office lunch (picnic style) to an outdoor location.
Socialize the Outdoors: Hiking is the New Brunch
While we're on the subject of mingling outdoor time with socializing, there's nothing like taking a hike or hitting a bike trail with your best friends. When you all live such crazy, hectic lives it can be difficult to get together at all — and downright intimidating to plan outdoor get-together's.
The best thing to do is to replace some of your current social events with mutual outdoor activities. Now, we're not saying to eliminate coffee dates with your friends. But if your regular Sunday brunch with your buddies is getting old (or your Saturday evening competitive board game is losing its appeal) think about replacing some of those events with a hike, walk, run, ski trip, or camping trip.
Schedule an Adventure Every Month
Studies have found that planning a vacation or getaway can boost happiness — sometimes even more so than the event itself! Harness the power of positive anticipation in your own life to get more outdoor time. Our favorite way to do this? Schedule at least one adventure every month.
The specifics are up to you. Is there a hike in your area that you've been dying to do, but it would require a full-day commitment? Or maybe there's a camping trip you want to take that would would require a drive, a hike, and then a weekend of camping. Is there a bike trail nearby that's been beckoning to you? Think about what excites you and what gives you that feeling of joyful anticipation.
You'll probably find that planning your next big adventure is going to have a positive impact on your life. In a day-to-day life characterized by sometimes-hectic responsibilities, knowing that you have a tranquil yet challenging adventure ahead of you can be a powerfully motivating force.
Small Changes Make a Huge Difference
There are so many small changes you can make to your life to maximize your outdoor time. Waking up an hour earlier. Boosting your energy. Getting outside on lunch breaks. Even just walking or biking to work daily instead of driving can make a huge difference. Once you've change your mindset and decided to prioritize that outdoor time, everything else will fall into place. Before long, you'll be planning amazing adventures, increasing the value of your free time, and finding an amazing way to spend time with friends.