This article is for you, but it’s also for me.
For you, because this is good and helpful information that I truly believe, if implemented, will improve multiple aspects of your life, especially if you have a desk job.
For me, because even though I believe it, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Even though I’ve benefited a lot from doing this in the past, I am still human. I can’t be the only one who, for some reason or another, fails to do things that make me happy, that I love, and that have brought me only good things.
So here’s to a little encouragement for all of us.
(Note: the images scattered throughout this post are actual images I’ve taken on walks around my neighbourhood this year, in approximate order!)
The two suggestions I give every time someone is having some sort of (non life-threatening) issue are:
- Drink water
- Go outside
I’m not exaggerating when I say every time, either. From headaches to sadness to stress to sore muscles, my advice tends to be the exact same. Drink water and/or go outside.
I give the same advice to myself, and my situation is most often improved by following it.
But that’s all reactive, isn’t it? Reacting to a problem with a fix. That’s all well and good when you have a problem, but let’s try and get a little preventative here, instead. Because what’s better than fixing a problem?
Preventing the problem in the first place.
Let’s not specify a single problem. Instead, let’s go with any and every problem you’ve ever encountered working a creative job at a desk.
(In our opinion, every job requires—or at least benefits from—a little creativity. So if you sit at a desk, or even stand at a desk, for most of your day, this applies to you.)
To name a few: lack of creativity or motivation, tired eyes, headache, sore/stiff muscles, poor sleep, distraction. You get the idea.
First, drink water. Some of those problems might be due to dehydration. I’m no expert, but unless your trips to the bathroom are so frequent they stop you from getting anything done, you could probably give it a try for prevention. Even if it’s just a glass of water in the morning before you start your day.
Interestingly enough, I read somewhere that most of us don’t even know when we’re thirsty anymore, because we’ve trained ourselves out of listening to our body for thirst cues. So even if you don’t think you’re thirsty – you probably are. –Aurooba
Moving on to the (arguably) more difficult half of the advice:
Go outside, often.
This isn’t a cure-all thing. I’d be crazy if I tried to suggest that simply going outside will prevent all your problems, because it definitely will not.
But I do believe it will prevent a portion of them. And since it’s also amazing out there, I do not see a downside.
Lately I’ve been aiming to get outside at least twice in my work day—once in the morning and once somewhere in the middle. Regardless of temperature (I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where the temperatures easily range from -30 to +30 degrees Celsius (that’s -22 to 86 Fahrenheit).
It’s not always easy, but here’s why it’s always awesome:
8 Reasons Why Going Outside is Awesome
1: Movement (in the long term)
Katy Bowman, a biomechanist and one of my favourite people lately, often talks about the fact that humans do not move their bodies enough. Even those who spend an hour at the gym each day (because for the other 23 hours of the day, we’re sedentary). Katy also talks about how more and better movement now (while we’re young) means more and better movement later. Long term health, ftw!More and better movement now (while we're young) means more and better movement later. Long term health, ftw! Click To Tweet
Since I work from home, there is even less required movement. I don’t even have to walk to my car. Not to mention the kitchen is only 10 steps away and the bathroom is 5. If I’m not careful, I could easily spend my entire day being sedentary, which is bad news for future me.
2: Movement (in the short term)
I’m willing to bet that any sore muscles are due (at least in part) to holding our bodies in a single position for a long time. Working out a coding problem for a few hours. Spending all day finalizing every detail of a design. Trying to figure out how in the world to input the payments you received through Stripe into your Quickbooks account. Not moving is easy, and it happens often.
3: Energy and Motivation
I won’t even try and fool you – I am not motivated 100% of the time. Particularly in the morning when I have to try and wake up before the sun rises. Or after I’ve spent 3 hours sorting out a problem. Nope, sometimes I’m plain ol’ tired and would much prefer to lay on the floor and stare up at a blank ceiling.
But you guessed it, walking helps. On the days I get myself outside before work, I find I can clear the fog in my brain and get going more quickly with a positive mindset. Something about a bit of exercise in nature does the trick.
Experiencing nature and the world is excellent for brainstorming, ideas, and creativity. If I’m not making headway on a problem, if I’m unable to come up with an innovative solution, or if I keep following the same train of thought and it’s getting me nowhere, taking a walk helps. It forces me to see the world, everything interacting within it, and often gives me a new perspective.
5: Eye Health
We spend so much time looking at things close up. Considering our eyes are probably capable of seeing things at least a few km away, this is crazy. So making an effort to look at things far away (which inevitably happens when you get outside) is great for all those little muscles in and around our eyes. On a side note, this is also one of the reasons I keep my desk facing a window (other reasons include making my office feel larger and watching the funny antics of people walking their dogs.)
Making an effort to look at things far away is great for all those little muscles in and around our eyes. Click To Tweet
My desk faces the window very purposefully. 1: Natural light is my favourite kind of light 🌞 2: I can watch the funny antics of people walking their dogs in all weather conditions 🐶 3: It makes my office feel larger 🙌 and 4: It reminds me to get outside and get moving, because nature is AWESOME ❤️ (Swipe for a bit of evidence, and head to our latest article on the blog for way more! Link in profile.) #wanderoaklife
6: Fresh Air
Deserves it’s own section because it’s glorious. I do understand that for many people, going outside means stepping into air that is incredibly far from being fresh. In those cases, the best I can recommend is getting out of a major city for a while. Fresh air is incredible (and so are changes in temperature!)
7: Nature is Awesome
Seriously, have you taken a look at the variation in snowflakes lately? The way frost forms on trees? The way the wind picks up snow and swirls it around? And if you don’t have snow, how about the beautiful autumn colours? Birds singing? The movement of a caterpillar on a sidewalk? The sound of rain? The feeling of rain? Seriously, I could go on. I’m in awe.Seriously, have you taken a look at the variation in snowflakes lately? #exploreAB Click To Tweet
8: There are Other People
If I don’t go outside, I could easily not see another person throughout the entire work day. That gets lonely after a while. Other people are out of my control: they’re unique, they do interesting things, say unexpected things, introduce me to new ideas, provide a laugh (or even just a smile), and share their stories.
So go outside, because movement is good for our health, nature is awesome, and people are so cool.Go outside, because movement is good for our health, nature is awesome, and people are so cool. Click To Tweet
Oh, and drink water. Because hydration.