If 2020 taught us anything, most office workers learned that working from home was possible. Not only possible but novel and fun as well. There were lots of homecooked meals, playing with kids or pets, lunch naps, and the joy of no longer commuting.
Fast forwarding to now, work-from-home life has gotten a bit stale. It still has its perks, but a bit of the luster is lost. It can be tiring to hunch over the kitchen table with our laptops all day. For some, it feels like work life and home life got shoved into a blender that never turns off.
It’s a little too easy to get stuck in a rut and not go outdoors as much as we used to before our work culture shifted. However, scientists believe there’s a direct link between mental health and spending more time outdoors.
Here’s how to get out of your WFH comfort zone and get more outdoor time to save your sanity and boost your brainpower.
Plan a Weekend #VanLife Getaway
After working from home for a while, many workers experienced chronic boredom and fatigue. When every day feels the same—full of screens, Skype, Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and more—we start to miss out on fresh experiences. Unfortunately, a lack of new and novel experiences can be damaging to our brains. Cognitive scientists believe there’s a direct link between novelty and happiness.
Whenever you can, it’s important to book some personal time on your calendar so you can rest, recharge, and avoid burnout. To maximize the stress relief of your time off work, make room for lots of outdoor adventures and exploration. Nothing feels quite as good as hitting the open road and exploring a new area, so why not try a quick weekend road trip?
Innovative rental services like Travellers Autobarn make it easier than ever to find amazing, budget-friendly camper vans that can kick off your next adventure. With a van rental, you’ll experience all the comforts of home like AC and electricity—all while camping under the stars every night.
On your next weekend getaway, focus on cultivating experiences where you can explore a new area and try unique things. For example, you could drive to a cute small town you’ve been meaning to see. Or you could roll up to the nearest national park and enjoy day hikes, sightseeing, and fresh air. After your unique van camping experience, you’ll feel like a new person by Monday.
Catch Some Rays
If remote work has you feeling a bit more tired than usual, you’re not alone. In 2021, researchers estimated that 7 out of every 10 remote workers had a vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, and bone pains.
So, what’s the solution? Getting more sunshine and outdoor time. Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient that helps your body with bone health and cellular function. Most of the vitamin D we get is from exposure to the sun. Experts estimate that about 15 minutes of sun exposure per day can boost vitamin D levels.
For remote workers, vitamin D deficiency has a relatively easy fix: try sitting near your window for meetings or walking your dog around the block. You might be surprised by how much better you feel after getting a bit more sunshine in your life.
Have you ever felt refreshed after stepping outside for some fresh air? Interestingly, neuroscientists have confirmed that there’s a clear link between nature and positive mental health. Hence the new term, “ecotherapy.”
The science shows that spending more time in greenspaces like forests and parks can improve mental health and overall cognition. Blue spaces like oceans, lakes, and marine environments are equally calming and beneficial.
To reduce your stress and improve your attention span, try spending more time outside. This could mean walking to the neighborhood park on your lunch break. Or gazing at the sunset after you clock out of work.
Spending 30 minutes per day in nature has proven benefits for your mood, mental health, and emotional wellbeing. And if you can’t get outside right now, nature videos on YouTube offer some therapeutic effects, too—just not as much as the real deal.
Establish Work/Life Boundaries
If you get messages from coworkers every day, night, and weekend, it’s time for a crash course on managing boundaries. Achieving a healthy work-life balance is essential for a successful career and a happy personal life.
When there’s not enough of a clear line between home and work activities, boundaries can help you balance your obligations without burning out. A panel of coaching experts from Forbes recommend building in downtime, sticking to a set schedule, and learning how to say no. It’s also incredibly beneficial to turn off your notifications and unplug from work occasionally.
Adopting these new habits isn’t always easy, but it’s an investment for your future. Boundaries can help you focus on the important things in life and put yourself first. This may help remind your boss that the so-called “urgent” emails can wait for a few moments without you. It’s OK to step away from your workspace and take a walk around the block to refresh yourself first.
Join an Outdoor Club
Without the day-to-day interactions of office life, it can be harder to meet other like-minded people. For a lot of remote employees, social interaction is the one thing they miss the most.
That’s why it’s helpful to find non-work social groups that can help you meet new people and build community. Many cities and metro areas offer a myriad of outdoor clubs and meetups. The sky is the limit—from hiking, photography, rollerblading, camping, kayaking, and many more. Meetup.com is a great place to start if you’re looking for a social group near you.
And if you live in a more isolated, rural area, there are still plenty of options for you to meet new folks. Outside Magazine recommends dabbling in whatever your rural locale has to offer, from helping with the local farmers market to joining a ski club.
Enjoy Outdoor Events
Remote workers are spending more time at home than ever, and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. That’s why it’s crucial to set up fun activities that help you get out of the house on weeknights and weekends. Activities like music fests, outdoor movie screenings, and art festivals can shake up your routine and give you something fun to look forward to.
Whenever you can, try to set up at least one monthly outdoor activity for you and your family. No matter what your interests are, there’s an event for almost any niche: art, music, food, drinks, and much more. If you’re not sure where to start, Parade Magazine has a list of the 50 best fairs and festivals in the US.
According to Psychology Today, having something to look forward to on a regular basis can improve your mindset and reduce overall stress levels. So go ahead and book your festival tickets and camper van reservations. It’ll boost your mental health and remote work performance.
Now that you know more about the benefits of spending more time outdoors, we hope you’ll consider stepping away from the remote office every once in a while.
Whether you’re going on a weekend road trip or taking a 5-minute nature break, it’s totally worth it. Your mind and body will thank you!
For more information read our Campervan Tips for Road Trips in the USA article.
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.