Our mission at Arctic Legacy is to inspire and encourage others to be more outdoors. And to enable great outdoor experiences with our range of Swedish Outdoor Apparel & Gear. Our mantra is Disconnect. Breathe. Being outdoors doesn't have to be the grand adventures where we spend weeks away from home. These moments can be just that, moments in our day where we open our eyes to the nature around us.
Many will say that being outdoors makes them feel good, and there’s a lot of science to back this up. Studies have found that being outdoors for just a few hours a week can dramatically improve your overall health. We have elected to call this shorter time outdoors a "green break." Just a quarter-hour a day can have dramatic changes on your health. In this article, we will cover some of the studies and the positive impacts anyone can have by embracing the lifestyle of Arctic Legacy: Disconnect. Breathe.
This is one example of the “disconnect” part of our mantra, being able to step away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Being outdoors allows us to stop thinking about work, projects, current events, or any number of activities that can pull our attention from the now.
A green break can happen anywhere. While the uninterrupted view of mountains paired with the sounds of nature is hard to beat for anyone looking to recharge, the truth is studies found that any green space is beneficial. Local parks, rooftop gardens, or even backyards provide the needed exposure for our brains to relax.
Green breaks don't have to be in forested areas either. The concept of "blue spaces" is relatively new, but recent research has been conducted to include water areas like beaches, canals, and rivers with similar findings. (Gascon, 2017) Naturally, the "best" green space for a break is the most "natural ."Spaces with limited noise pollution are ideal. A 2019 study found that participants who listened to nature sounds performed better on cognitive skills tests than those who listened to traffic and human chatter sounds. (Van Hedger, 2019).
Studies from the University of Exeter showed a positive correlation between subjects who spent 120 minutes a week in urban green spaces like a backyard or park and reduced stress and anxiety levels. It was also found that after 2-300 minutes of exposure, there was no noticeable decrease in reports of unhappiness. (White, 2019). While 120 minutes is the proven time for the best results, it doesn't have to be all in one block. For example, in Australia, researchers asked students to engage in a dull, attention-draining task in which they pressed a computer key when specific numbers flashed on a screen. Students who looked out at a flowering green roof for 40 seconds midway through the task made significantly fewer mistakes than students who paused for 40 seconds to gaze at a concrete rooftop (Lee, 2015). Impressive that less than a minute of viewing nature had a noticeable improvement on the subjects. While that may be performance-based, we can certainly see the benefits.
The benefits of a green break could fall in the “breathe” category. The reward for the disconnecting is getting to step back and recharge. Even the act of releasing a deep breath results in a smile.
We can break the benefits of green breaks into two categories. The first category is related to the positive impacts on your body. The second is the reduction of negative impacts related to our routines. Starting with the favorable first: green breaks provide users with fresh air and sunlight. Air and sunlight have scientifically proven benefits in boosting health and reducing the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. In all of the studies referenced, individuals who spent 120 minutes outdoors a week were more likely to report feelings of relaxation and physical wellness in the long and short term. In the White study, participants were almost twice as likely to respond with a feeling of wellness as their non outdoors counterparts. Green spaces have been shown to reduce feelings of anger, stress, and even depression. (Ulrich, 1991). perhaps more correlation than causation, being outdoors increase connections with others. By disconnecting from our stressful work routines and engaging with others, we can strengthen relationships and form stronger bonds with coworkers and family members.
As mentioned, taking a green break can also increase our health by reducing harmful habits we find ourselves in by not going outdoors. With the past several years focusing on the Covid-19 pandemic, green breaks were used to limit potential exposure from sick individuals. Eating lunch outdoors instead of in a breakroom can significantly reduce the risk of getting sick from any seasonal cold or virus. Our increased indoor time leads to poor posture and a lack of socialization and, in many studies, has been linked to higher rates of illness. (Stamatakis, 2011).
How to Take a Green Break
Two hours a week seems like a daunting schedule change in our busy lives. However, the average worker has a meal break ranging from half an hour to an hour every work day, between two and a half to five hours a week to spend walking or sitting outdoors. The average American, Canadian, or even Italian spends more than three hours a day watching television. Giving up tv for one day would double the amount of time needed for your weekly quota of green time. Scheduling time to put take in nature is critical for our health and happiness. Planning a new adventure or adjusting our existing trips home at the end of the day can provide access to local green space that works perfectly for your daily quota.
Taking a green break should be part of everyone's daily routine. By increasing our time outdoors, we can disconnect from the day's stresses and reconnect with ourselves and our peers. All that is needed to get to the golden two-hour window is just 17 minutes a day. Put your task on hold and take your coffee break outdoors. Turn off the TV and invite your children to take a walk in the park after dinner. Instead of checking the stock reports after work take your favorite jacket from the closet and look to see what new flowers have begun to grow with the change of the seasons. Whatever way you get to be outdoors and in nature is a great way. Remember, take your green break, Disconnect. Breathe.