The Great Outdoors: 4 Ways to Experience Life Beyond Your Cubicle
By Katie MacDougall, LPC
Cold is not my thing. The fastest you'll see me walk is through a parking lot in those brutal February months when the Oklahoma wind cuts right through you. During the summer, I'm willing to loiter a little. The winter is a different story.
Despite my disdain for cold weather, I know it's good for me to be outside. Research shows that getting outside helps us relax and increases our productivity. So how do we do that when drinking hot cocoa by the fireplace feels a whole lot better? (Or, for you warm-blooded folks, sitting in front of the AC with a cup of sweet tea sounds better).
If you are like me, your work is also indoors. I don’t sit in a cubicle, but I do sit within four walls of an office day in and day out. For me, getting outside requires intentionality. Let’s talk about a few ways to do that well.
Park Far Away.
In the age of grocery pick-up and drive-thru everything, parking far away is a lost art. I, too, would rather sit in the luxury of my vehicle as long as possible. Yet this seemingly silly tip might be the most refreshing decision you make for the day. In the midst of life’s craziness, taking a few moments to breathe in fresh air can be like hitting a spiritual and emotional reset button.
Try an Outdoor Family Tradition.
Each season has opportunities for an outdoor family tradition. The spring could include planting flowers, a picnic, or playing in the rain. The summer might mean a hike, swimming, or grilling. The fall may inspire you to make s’mores, go camping, or jump in a pile of leaves. Whether you get snow or not, the winter might include bundling up and making a snowman—out of real snow or another object like snow (pillows, rocks, leaves, or dirt could all be potential options). Holidays also lend themselves to other outdoor family traditions like picking out a pumpkin, getting out of the car to see Christmas lights, or going to an outdoor skating rink.
I’m generally a climate-controlled kind of exerciser. Spin classes are my favorite form of exercise, which are always inside. Yet I know that exercising outside can significantly improve my mood and leave me feeling refreshed in a different way. There are two requirements for me to get outside to exercise during my least favorite weather months of the year. The first is accountability. I need a friend to motivate me to get outside during those cold winter months. The second is proper clothing. If I am not properly bundled up, it is unlikely that I will go (or stay) outside.
Take the Dog on a Walk.
Chances are Fido's ready and willing to go on a walk at any moment. Spend time with the most loyal member of your family and get exercise for you both by taking the dog on a walk. He will be happy even if it’s around the block.