Nature Improves Homework and Health

The benefits of working outside


NEW OFFICE To get a change of scenery, take advantage of the weather, and spend some much needed time outside after sitting in the same spot for six hours, junior staff member Charlotte Weiss has started to do her homework outside. Spending time outside has numerous health benefits including lowering blood pressure and stress levels. Creating a comfortable workspace that is beneficial to one’s learning is extremely important during these seemingly lonely times. Try going for a walk or doing homework outside if you need a change of pace or breath of fresh air.

The four walls of my so-called workspace seem to get closer and closer every class while my brain gets more and more tired. As a virtual student, I have found it difficult at times to begin my homework after more than six hours of Google Meets or fight the urge to stay off my phone while trying to complete my homework.

   At my house, I work in a heated sunroom with walls of windows, yet I still find myself getting bored of the scenery I see every day; the stack of books to separate my workspace from my older sister’s, my laptop, my neighbor’s house just outside the window, my pile of notebooks and textbooks. 

   To combat my procrastination tendencies and take advantage of the recent fall weather, I have begun to work outside on my deck. I bring my computer outside and whatever notebook I may need to complete the homework for one class. I turn on some calming music, sometimes jazz, sometimes soft indie. 

   I found that I have been less stressed when completing my homework, as well as a complete shift in my mindset. While inside, with only a door separating me from the rest of my family making noise, I feel stressed by looking at my planner and the mess of a table I have made. However, when sitting outdoors, my nerves and stress are only calmed by the sounds of crickets and birds around me.  

   Dr. Eva M. Selhub serves as an Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and has appeared in many prestigious publications including The New York Times and Huffington Post, in addition to many published medical journals and books. 

   According to Selhub’s book “Your Brain on Nature,” nature acts as a drop of morphine to the brain and can even “turn off the stress response,” as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure. 

   In addition to the health benefits of working outside or even being outside, at times it feels that the change of scenery results in a more calm feeling during these generally stressful and confusing times. 

   I am lucky to live in the suburbs where I have a backyard that is not full of construction or skyscrapers, but a study at the University of Michigan in 2008 proved that just looking at pictures of nature improved scores testing one’s attention and memory than those that looked at pictures of urban scenes. 

   As a virtual student, I have the option to attend my Google Meet classes outside, but in-person students obviously do not have the same choice. So next time you feel stressed try going for a walk, working outside, or just looking at some images of the beautiful nature scenes on Earth.