Do you find it hard to concentrate at the office? Do you always feel tired at the end of your work day? Then I’ve got good news for you!
All it takes to overcome these issues is a lunchtime walk in nature! That’s according to the scientists at the University of Tampere who recently published a new study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.
The research team lead by Marjaana Sianoja wanted to see if people’s half-hour lunch breaks could be more beneficial to them when they switched up their routines. The team followed about one hundred workers in different fields. After questioning them about their normal lunchtime routines, workers were told to change what they were doing for 10 consecutive work days.
One-half of the group took a stroll in a nearby park, focusing on nature and their peaceful surroundings. The other half stayed in their office building, finding a quiet place to do different relaxation exercises, like practicing mindfulness and deep breathing. Both the walk and relaxation exercises took just 15 minutes and workers did them after eating a quick lunch.
The subjects were asked to report their levels of afternoon wellbeing, how much they enjoyed their breaks, and if they were able to put their work thoughts behind them for a total of 5 weeks.
Analysis showed that people in both groups reported higher concentration levels, less strain, and higher wellbeing on the afternoons they relaxed or walked, compared to their normal lunchtime routines. Those who walked in the park reported enjoying their breaks more which the authors believe directly improved concentration and reduced fatigue.
On the other hand, people in the second group didn’t enjoy their breaks more on days they did mindfulness exercises, compared to their usual routines. They did, however, see some benefits in the form of being able to detach from work during their break.
What the researchers found most interesting was that these feelings lasted well into the afternoon. At first, they were not sure if these benefits would be observable hours after the breaks, but in reality, the effects lasted up until thirty to sixty minutes before people left work. This means taking a walk during lunch or performing relaxation exercises could actually help you head home with more energy, which in turn could benefit your personal life.
Not everyone will be able to find a green and natural environment during their lunch break, but relaxation exercises and these tips might be easier to fit in on a regular basis. And if you find your work days too busy for a 15-minute break, consider this:
You can easily make up the loss of time by being able to concentrate better in the afternoon.