It’s no secret a busy nurse will spend most working hours indoors. During the winter months, you will probably arrive at your job as the sun is coming up, and you leave when the sun is going down. However, remaining in the same environment every day can lead to feeling bored, tired, or unmotivated. With just a few minutes a day, going outside can improve your mental and physical well-being and help you take on any challenge. Here are a few reasons to get outside each day.

1. Enhanced immune function

A recent study published in Scientific Report by Georgetown Medical Center proposed exposure to sunlight may strengthen your immune system by way of mechanisms that are entirely independent from Vitamin D. Researchers suggest the visible, blue-light from the sun might trigger critical immune cells and increase their motility. While this is still an emerging area of study, it looks like your immune system would certainly benefit from some regular time in the sun.

2. Reduced stress

Are you feeling burned-out and overwhelmed? Depending on the setting you work in, it can be challenging to find convenient, green spaces to get some fresh air. However, heading outside at least once during the day is worth the effort. Research shows even a five-minute nature fix helps lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Can’t get outside? As you’re walking by a window, stop and gaze out for a moment. Reports show that viewing nature through a window can also lower your stress levels.

3. Increased PMA

Positive mental attitude: Who doesn’t want to approach life with more positivity and less negative thinking? One study found that more frequent exposure to natural elements correlates with lower feelings of depression, greater workplace satisfaction, and commitment. Furthermore, a brisk trip outside boosts your mood and increases your creativity, which, when dealing with a variety of personalities, can come in very handy.

4. Better sleep

If you have trouble sleeping, that’s all the more reason to make stepping outside during the day a priority. A study conducted by St. Louis University demonstrated the power of natural sunlight to help set your body’s internal clock to signal when you need to eat and sleep. If your sleep problems are severe, you’ll require more exposure to sunlight than the five-minute stress relieving recommendation mentioned earlier. In fact, the study suggests you’ll need 30 to 60 minutes of direct sunlight for sleep patterns to change drastically.

5. Improved energy

Are you feeling drained during the work day? The answer to feeling depleted may lie in getting outside your physical workplace. Studies show that people who connect with nature tend to feel more energized and revitalized–two key factors to help make your job easier. Furthermore, the energizing effects of going outside seem to be amplified with social interaction. So, whenever possible, grab a colleague and head outside for a change of scenery.

Jennifer Lelwica Buttaccio

Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio, OTR/L, is a Chicago-based, freelance lifestyle writer, licensed occupational therapist, and certified Pilates instructor. Her expertise is in health, wellness, fitness, and chronic illness management.

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