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    Sep 5, 2018

    9 Ways To Get In A Little Nature Even If You Work Inside All Day

    Because we can't all be park rangers or marine biologists.

    If you've ever had a job that requires you to work indoors for most or all of the day, you know that not being able to go outside for long stretches of time is...not so nice.

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    I don't want to sound like David Attenborough (or do I?!), but regular exposure to nature does a whole lot of good for stress, anxiety, and your body's overall physical health. Although there's no true replacement for a good, old-fashioned walk in the woods, there are some doable ways to create some kind of helpful connection with mother nature inside your workplace. Here are a few to try:

    1. If you can take a route to and from work that has more trees or pretty scenery, do it.

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    Starting the workday with a glimpse at some local flora, however fleeting, will get things off on the right foot. Sure, it might mean that you have to tack on some extra time to your commute, but when you're traveling down a lovely tree-lined road, you'll probably be in a much better mood than you'd be otherwise.

    2. Make a habit out of looking for tiny patches of nature.

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    In meetings, take a spot that lets you look outside the conference room. If you work in a city and drive a lot, try to observe nature on your lunch break, even if that means just letting your gaze rest on the potted plants in front of Starbucks. Once you start looking for them, you'll find little reminders of nature everywhere you look, even if they're just "accidental nature," as Florence Williams calls them in The Nature Fix.

    3. Listen to some nature sounds for a few minutes when you get all worked up.

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    Try to give your ears — and whole body — a treat by listening to soundscapes, like birds chirping, water ebbing and flowing at the beach, or wind rustling the branches of trees. Those three sounds are thought to create a mental connection with freshness, a concept that's so popular in the UK that the BBC broadcasts 90 seconds of birdsong a day. Birdsong, in particular, is so similar to human music that it promotes happy emotions. "We should think about soundscapes as a medicine," Joshua Smyth, a biobehavioral psychologist at Pennsylvania State University, says in The Nature Fix. "Do it 20 minutes a day as a lifetime approach, or you can do it as an acute stress intervention."

    4. Better yet, watch nature scenes when you get a sec to yourself.

    View this video on YouTube

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    Studies have shown that cueing up a video of a babbling brook or animals prancing through a meadow for as little as five minutes can actually calm your nervous system. Maybe it means sneaking away for a few to watch vids in your car, but on a bad day, it'll feel worth it.

    5. Sniff some tree smells, either from an actual tree or from an essential oil.

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    Tree smells can have been found to decrease stress and increase NK cells, which protect us from disease agents and infections, Williams writes. Either step outside and get a whiff of the great outdoors, or put some hinoki cypress essential oil into a humidifier and let it puff away.

    6. Dig around in some dirt...seriously.

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    Listen, I am not advising that you do this at your desk or in front of your coworkers, but hear me out. Misha Blaise writes in This Phenomenal Life that there's a specific soil bacterium called mycobacterium vaccal that activates a set of serotonin-releasing neurons in the brain — the same nerves targeted by many antidepressants. So instead of reaching for a stress ball or whatever you use when you've had it up to HERE with Brenda and her phone calls to her aunt in her cubicle, put some soil in a jar, play around with it for a few minutes, and don't forget to wash your hands when you're done.

    7. Take as much work outside as you can manage.

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    Take phone calls on a bench, move meetings to outdoor settings, do some writing or reading in a park, you name it. If there's the slightest opportunity to break out in the middle of the day, make it happen! It's worth the effort.

    8. If you're running into a creative block, go look at a tree.

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    Spending time in nature can boost creativity, which is great news if your job requires you to think outside the box. If you're really stuck on an important matter or just need a little inspiration, step outside and go find your nearest tree. Just the change in environment will get your juices flowing, and the glimpse of some leaves and bark will help even more.

    9. And if you work at a desk, turn it into a veritable indoor jungle with a bunch of house plants.

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    House plants like succulents and snake plants are literally out here doing the most for us — they've been found to remove up to 87% of air toxins within 24 hours, and they've been linked to increased concentration and productivity. Even if you can't get a gulp of fresh air, you can breathe a little easier with some house plants around as you plug away.

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