Nature Therapy: Mental Health Benefits of Outdoor Workspaces

Nature therapy reminds us that sometimes, the best thing we can do for our health and happiness is to simply step outside and connect with the world around us. It’s a practice that invites us to slow down, breathe deeply, and rediscover the joy and tranquility that nature offers.

What is Nature Therapy?

Imagine taking a deep breath of fresh air, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, or listening to the gentle rustle of leaves. That’s nature therapy in a nutshell. It’s stepping outside, away from the buzz of screens and the hum of air conditioning, to immerse yourself in the natural world. This simple act of connecting with nature is  a powerful way to boost both our mental and physical health.

Nature therapy, also known as ecotherapy, is based on a simple yet profound principle: humans are meant to be in touch with the natural environment. Our ancestors spent their days under the open sky, and despite the comforts of modern life, our connection to the outdoors remains vital for our well-being.

This practice doesn’t require heading off on a wilderness expedition (though that’s great too!). It can be as simple as spending a few moments in a park, enjoying a coffee on a terrace surrounded by plants, or holding a casual work meeting outside when the weather is nice. The idea is to incorporate moments of nature into our daily lives, particularly in settings where we might not expect it, like at work.

In the workplace, nature therapy can transform the usual routine. It might look like taking a short walk outside during a break, setting up a workspace with a view of trees or sky, or even just opening a window to let in natural light and fresh air. These small changes can make a big difference in how we feel and perform throughout the day.

Psychological and Physical Benefits of Spending Time in Nature

Taking a break in nature does more than just give us a break from the hustle and bustle; it’s essential for keeping us healthy and happy. The perks of getting out into nature are huge, affecting everything from how stressed we feel to how creatively we think. Let’s explore some of the major ways that nature can boost both our minds and bodies.

Stress Reduction

Stepping into nature quickly lowers our stress levels. The outdoors serves as a natural calming agent, soothing both mind and body. Research confirms that time spent in nature or even just viewing it from a window can decrease heart rate and cortisol, the hormone associated with stress. This natural tranquility is a powerful antidote to the stress and anxiety of our fast-paced lives.

Enhanced Creativity and Productivity

Nature boosts our mental abilities, enhancing creativity and productivity. Outside, free from indoor distractions, our thinking broadens and becomes more imaginative. Studies have shown that those who spend time outdoors see a marked improvement in their problem-solving skills and creativity. Outdoor workspaces and nature breaks offer a smart strategy for a more innovative and efficient work environment.

Improved Mood and Emotional Well-being

Nature significantly uplifts our mood. Sunlight, fresh air, and nature’s colors can quickly boost our spirits. Scientific research links regular outdoor activity with lower levels of depression and anxiety, showing that time spent in nature is not only enjoyable but also key to emotional health and happiness.

Social Interaction and Cohesion

Nature changes the way we interact at work, fostering more open and spontaneous conversations free from the constraints of traditional office setups. This enhances teamwork and strengthens bonds among colleagues. Natural settings encourage a shared sense of community and belonging, making for a more supportive and united workplace.

How to Incorporate Outdoor Spaces During Work Hours

Bringing a bit of nature into your workday is easier than you might think, and it can make a big difference in how you feel and perform at work. Here are some straightforward ways to get started:

  • Outdoor Meetings: Swap the boardroom for the outdoors for your next meeting. Whether it’s a bench in a nearby park or tables in an outdoor café, changing the setting can boost creativity and morale.

  • Outdoor Workstations: If possible, set up workstations outside. This could be as simple as moving a table to a shaded area. Working outside for even part of the day can increase your focus and productivity.

  • Walking Meetings: Instead of sitting down for every meeting, try having walking meetings in nearby parks or green spaces. Walking meetings are great for one-on-one discussions or brainstorming sessions, promoting both physical activity and creative thinking.

  • Views of Nature: Make sure your indoor workspace has views of the outside world. Being able to look out a window at trees, plants, or even the sky can reduce stress and improve mood.

  • Indoor Plants: Bring nature indoors by adding plants to your workspace. Indoor plants not only purify the air but also have a calming effect, making your work environment more pleasant and less stressful.

  • Nature Breaks: Encourage taking breaks to step outside. A short walk or just a few minutes spent in a green space can refresh your mind and help you tackle the rest of your work with renewed energy.

  • Flexible Scheduling: If possible, offer flexible scheduling to allow for time spent outdoors during the workday. This could mean longer breaks or a flexible start time to enjoy the morning light.

Incorporating these elements into your work routine doesn’t require a major overhaul—just a shift in how you view and use the outdoor spaces available to you. By integrating nature into your workday, you’re not just improving your own well-being; you’re setting a precedent that could positively influence your entire workplace’s approach to health and productivity.

Common Challenges and Roadblocks with Nature Therapy

Embracing nature therapy in our work lives brings a host of benefits, but it’s not without its challenges. Let’s talk about some common hurdles and practical ways to overcome them, ensuring everyone can enjoy the great outdoors.


The weather plays by its own rules, making it tricky to plan outdoor activities reliably. To work around this, consider having a plan B for outdoor meetings or work sessions. Creating sheltered outdoor areas, like covered patios or spaces with retractable roofs, can provide the best of both worlds, allowing you to enjoy fresh air without the worry of a sudden downpour.

Privacy and Noise Issues

Outdoor spaces are great for a change of scenery but might not always offer the quiet or privacy needed for focused work or confidential discussions. Using portable screens can create more private work areas, and noise-canceling headphones are a great personal solution for blocking out distracting sounds. These simple adjustments can make outdoor workspaces suitable for a variety of tasks.

Accessibility and Inclusivity

A key consideration for outdoor workspaces is ensuring they’re accessible to everyone, including those with mobility challenges. This means thoughtful design, like having ramps and wide pathways, and ensuring that any outdoor furniture is usable by everyone. It’s about creating a space where all team members can enjoy the benefits of nature without barriers.

Habits to Remain Connected to Nature

Keeping a connection with nature doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few easy habits to weave into your workday:

  • Take Short Walks: Regular short walks, especially in green spaces, can be a refreshing break and help clear your mind.

  • Practice Mindfulness Outdoors: Try spending a few minutes in mindfulness or meditation outside, feeling the sun, the breeze, and the sounds of nature.

  • Start a Workplace Garden: If possible, get involved in or start a workplace garden. This can be a rewarding way to engage with nature and your colleagues.

Maintaining these habits helps ensure that the mental health benefits of nature therapy are a consistent part of our lives, offering a steady source of rejuvenation and well-being.


Nature gives us a boost in so many ways, helping us shake off stress, find our happy zone, spark new ideas, and build stronger teams. When we blend nature into our daily grind, work doesn’t just get done better; we also feel a whole lot better doing it. So, why not make the great outdoors a key part of our work and wellness strategy? It’s an invitation to not only improve our workdays but also enrich our lives. Curious? Let’s step outside and discover what nature can do for us.

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