Nature’s influence on workplace mental health and productivity

Nature’s influence on workplace mental health and productivity

Hippocrates, the father of Modern Medicine once said that “Nature itself is the best physician”. It is pretty self-explanatory but the true powers and positive impact of nature is something that can only be experienced and not explained. The Nature around us has enough potential to provide calming and healing benefits. Many a time when people walk up to therapists with complaints of irritability and anger outbursts, more often than not they are recommended to take a silent walk in the nearby vicinities. Not only does it help you calm down but observing the trees, the color of the sky, listening to the sound of water flowing, smelling the trees and flowers, and walking barefoot on the grass have been shown to reduce the levels of anxiety and stress faced by an individual. Nature completes us and supports us in ways we may not even be able to imagine. There is also enough scientific evidence backing its positive impacts and physical and emotional benefits. 

Nature is an important tool to ground and reconnect

Mindfulness is one of the approaches that are used in Psychotherapy which is based on the premise of being present fully in the moment or being “here and now.” Being mindful means becoming aware of all your senses; sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. It means connecting with each of your sense organs to bring yourself back into the present moment. It is one of the practices that work the best when you’re feeling really overwhelmed or even scared and extremely worried. Being in nature allows us to activate all our senses and pay deeper attention to the elements present in nature. Many Mental Health Professionals across the globe have been prescribing ‘Ecotherapy’ or ‘Green Therapy’ to improve overall wellbeing and implement positive practices in people’s lives. Here’s a small practice that you can implement in your weekly schedule. 

A dedicated nature walk is a walk that you take without your gadgets (phone, earphones, smartwatch, etc). The purpose of this walk is not to exercise but to observe the elements present around you and immerse yourself in them. Whenever possible, just leave your gadgets at home for some time and take a walk in your favorite place. Pay attention to the various colors present around you, and different kinds of noise. Look out for any specific smells, and try to touch different textures of leaves and flowers around you. Observe the changing temperatures with every passing breeze. If possible, taste a portion of any edible fruit/ seed if it is present in your vicinity. This not only enhances your observation skills but helps you relieve stress and ground extremely well.

Being in nature serves as an excellent antidote to Digital burnout.

In today’s time where most of the work is happening online and nobody is an exception to being constantly surrounded by digital devices. Being constantly online can be very tiring and thus feeling fatigued or burnt out can be very natural. In 2023 McKinsey Health Institute conducted a survey program that revealed Indian employees showing the highest rate of burnout symptoms at 59% and the highest level of workplace exhaustion at 62%. The rates also saw a rise due to the global pandemic. 

Being present in nature allows your senses to take in only what you want to by slowing down and focusing on the smaller things. It activates your sense of imagination, creativity, and connection. Slowing down is the best antidote to exhaustion and when you are in nature, you always have the opportunity to slow down and break the cycle of overthinking. Natural sounds, sights, and smells can rejuvenate your senses and bring back the calm.

Inculcating natural elements in your routine can help in building comfort and safety around you.

When you are setting up a work desk, pay attention to how the desk is placed, if there is enough natural light, and if there’s enough space for you to move around. Sometimes you may not have a lot of space but what you can focus on is making the space your own by inculcating natural elements of your choice. Setting up a small statue of any idol, having a small indoor plant on your desk, keeping a small shell/ stone or souvenir that you may have picked up from your trip on your desk, integrating multiple soothing colours while setting up your desk, using a diary made with hand rolled paper to write your notes, drinking water out of a copper bottle instead of a plastic bottle/glass are some of the many ways that you can use to remain closer to nature. 

Enhanced performance and improved levels of productivity

Experiences of even smaller elements of nature have been shown to fuel greater performance increase creativity and help employees. The same research also showcases that every single person was impacted positively by some of the other degrees of positivity. Making nature and natural elements a part of your daily routine, not only encourages your personal and professional benefits but in a larger scope of things also offers the most sustainable and holistic solution. 

An American company, ‘Genzyme’  implemented changes like transparent partitions and indoor gardens in the company after which 88% of employees reported a significant increase in their well-being and 75% said that the new design helped their sense of connection with their coworkers.