Over the past few years ‘wellness’ has emerged as an integral buzzword in our personal lives but also in the workplace, creating ripples across many industries and most importantly challenging our supposedly exhausting work-life imbalance of work, work, work, and a little bit of play.
Many companies are not only accepting this ‘movement’ but embracing the concept of ‘wellbeing in the workplace’ as more studies emerge that support the idea that being happy and healthy at work increases productivity, reduces stress and helps physical and mental health, demonstrating that just a few small changes could make a massive impact.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines wellbeing as ‘the state of feeling healthy and happy’, and studies have emerged suggesting that nature could just well be the answer.
In 2017 journalist Florence Williams published her book "The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative," in which she reveals that not only can getting outside and enjoying nature improve short term memory and help with focus and performance but it can fight depression, and has the physical side effect of reducing blood pressure and therefore alleviating stress and anxiety.
One study looked how nature affects the physical side effects of stress, which showed that students who spent two nights in the forest had decreased levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress and anxiety, compared to those students who spent their time in a city.
Another study from Japan looked at walks in the forest and found that as well as helping to combat the levels of stress hormones, this simply lovely activity also lowered the average pulse by almost 4% and the participants’ blood pressure by just over 2%.
Many of us spend our days working under unnatural fluorescent lights, staring at a computer screen for more than 8 hours a day and then our phones, tablets and televisions keep us connected and stimulated in between for good measure, so it is no wonder that our wellbeing is being thrown to the wayside.
We are so far from the natural in our everyday lives and it’s starting to show. According to Health and Safety Executive there were ‘12.5 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17’. Proving just how important employee wellbeing is to a business’ productivity, so businesses that actively encourage employees to get out at lunch time for fresh air and enjoy a walk seem to be on the right path.
In January of this year, neuroscientist Dr Andrea Mechelli told the BBC Breakfast Programme about a study involving an app called Urban Mind which revealed that ‘the positive effects of a single exposure to nature – for example, a walk, run or stint in the garden – can last for seven hours after an individual has experienced it’.
So not only can getting outside reduce stress, boost our vitamin D levels, expose us to natural light which elevates mood and improve our concentration. But these effects could last for 7 hours after the experience.
Team building is one way to stir things up and get your team motivated and engaged. This can be a day away from the office or a short trip, but whatever you do, get everyone outside and surrounded by nature.
Part of Dr Mechelli’s study revealed that just by getting out, hearing bird song and seeing the sky (no matter what the weather) is beneficial to mental health. So a retreat away from the office to build morale, re-energise and enjoy a shared experience that allows everyone to work together in a completely new way could be hugely advantageous.
At Careys Manor Hotel team building is a hugely important part of the corporate offering with ever-increasing emphasis on restoring and rejuvenating wellbeing for all who visit, not just for managers and CEOs. Through local and professional team building companies and by using Careys Manor as your base you can have access to many outside activities with choices to suit all sizes of groups and interests; from clay pigeon shooting and orienteering, to segways, sailing and cycling. For a more chilled time why not opt for guided forest walks and treasure hunts, but whatever you choose, get your team together, get outside and don’t forget your outdoor shoes!
Encouraging people to get out at break times, conducting walking meetings, organising outside lunches during the summer or ensuring that there is a nice outside space for people to enjoy a tea break in, are just some of the ideas you could implement at your workplace. Supporting employees who enjoy sport and fitness with discounted rates for local sports clubs is another great way to say “we care about your wellness”.
Something that is happening in many businesses is a transition to flexible working hours so employees can find time in their morning or evening to get outside themselves, perhaps for a longer walk with the dog before work, because as we’ve been informed, the positive effects of that time spent outside can last up to 7 hours, which means you get a happier, healthier and less stressed individual working hard for the full day because they feel great and know that their company supports them.
The good news for you now that you are enthused and informed about implementing wellness campaigns in your workplace is that on the 21st March 2018 it is the International Day of Forests. So proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, it is a day to celebrate and ‘raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests.’
So why don’t you make it your mission to organise a double celebration of wellness and nature and spend a day (or two) out in the New Forest National Park with a team of employees and plan some fun forest-friendly activities?
If you're looking for hotels in the New Forest that can provide the perfect backdrop, facilities and ideas for your forest retreat, look no further than Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa. From Corporate Wellness to glamping on the field, spa escapes to memorable summer parties, contact Lauren Bond-Thomas today to find out more about Corporate Hospitality at our award-winning venue.
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