7 Ways Busy People Can Spend More Time Outside and Be Happier Doing It

I can’t tell you how much my life has improved since I made it a personal goal to spend at least an hour a day outside.

That might not sound like a lot but in the middle of winter, during a busy working week, it can be challenging…but well worth it!

There are seemly endless benefits for spending time outside including improvement in mood, vitamin D, mental health, physical health, and overall happiness.

Most people simply don’t get out enough.

In fact, a new area of psychology has emerged in recent years devoted to nature deficit disorder.

If you think you’re too busy to get outside, think again. I have a full time job, a side hustle, and a two-year-old and I have managed to spend at least one hour outside per day by doing a lot of my daily activities outside rather than inside.

It does require a little effort but the benefits are soooooo worth it. So worth it in fact, I consider it a lifestyle choice and part of my identity rather than just a daily activity.

Here are just some of the ways I get out more during my busy everyday life.

Work outside

Think you're too busy to spend time outside?  Take your laptop out to get some more time outside while you work
Think you’re too busy to spend time outside? Take your laptop out to get some more time outside while you work

Most of us spend hours working on a laptop everyday. Why not take it outside?

You might be surprised to find yourself more concentrated and less reliant on the internet than you thought. Here are some tips for working on a laptop outside:

  • Sit in the shade and turn the brightness on the screen all the way up so it’s not a strain to see the screen
  • If you need internet occasionally, make a list of what you were going to look up or do and then do them all at once later. This is far more efficient than going back and forth to the internet – your productivity will actually increase this way!
  • If it’s cold at all, dress warmer than you think you should because you will probably be sitting for a while, making you colder than if you were moving around.

Other great work to do outside is reading.

I edit a lot of papers and the worst place to do it is in my office! The best place – out by the lake. Nothing is better than sipping a latte in a warm coat by a lake, doing some quality reading with shades on…and getting paid for it!

Finally, sometimes I just need to clear my head and rethink a project or an idea. What could be better than a change in environment and some fresh air?? Go sit and stair or walk to get the juices flowing – it’s work if you’re thinking about work!

Eat lunch outside

Taking your lunch outside is a great way to get some more time outside

Seriously, why not?

Take a walk as a break

Science has shown that even a short walk can increase creativity and keep you that way for longer periods of time

Studies have shown that a short walk can increase creativity and keep you that way for longer periods during the day.

Clear your head, get the blood flowing, and get some fresh air. You will be more productive when you come back and it will wake you up more than chatting with a coworker over a cup of coffee.

Stop at the park on the way home

A quick stop at the park on the way home can improve your mood which has ripple effects, improving other areas of your life

After work, this might be the last thing you want to do but trust me it’s worth it, especially if you didn’t do any of the first three things on this list!

Imagine two people who are equally tired at the end of the day.

The first goes straight home to sit in his lazy-boy and watch two hours of TV, getting no sunlight or fresh air.

The second stops by the park for just 10 minutes to sit in the sun for a few minutes, breath the fresh air deeply, and just have a few moments of total peace.

Who do you think is more pleasant to be around by dinner time?

Who do you think has a better relationship with their spouse and children?

Who do you think will have done a better job of releasing the stress of the day?

BBQ dinner at a local park

Many parks have publicly available barbecues that mostly go unused. This is crazy!

Most people over-complicate barbecuing. They spend hours prepping veggies or finding the perfect burger recipe.

People also have a tendency to only want to barbecue meat. Veggies are delicious on the barbecue too!

Even you’re not Mr. Grillmaster, it’s not terribly hard to whip a healthy and delicious meal on a public barbecue.

Just follow these tips and you’ll find yourself barbecuing any night of the week without hassle or stress:

  • Vegetables are delicious on the grill. I know everyone loves meat, meat, meat when it comes to barbecuing but if you want to do it more often, you might as well make it healthier and cheaper. Zuccini, eggplant, and mushrooms are all delicious on the BBQ but there are no rules to what you can grill (you can even BBQ romaine lettuce!)
  • Don’t do any prep – all that marinating, chopping, and skewering is time consuming. Just pack up a cutting board and a knife and stop by the grocery store on the way to the park. That way, you don’t have much of an excuse to stay home.
  • Keep it simple – whatever you cook is going to be good because it’s cooked on an open flame. You don’t need tons of spices, maybe just some BBQ sauce for dipping.
  • Pack paper towels and paper plates. Two words – no dishes.

Play outside with your kids

Enough screen time already!

Nothing is better for your kids (seriously, they need it) and more stress relieving for you than becoming a kid yourself and playing outside.

Grab your bikes, kick a socker ball, go to a jungle gym…it doesn’t matter! All that matters is that you get out more!

Take up a hobby that gets you excited!

Hobbies should make you excited when you think about doing them. So excited, in fact, you should hardly be able to wait to go do them.

And when you want to go do them, you will find time.

If there’s a hobby you think you “should” do more often, that’s not a hobby you’re going to get into!

Here, we’re looking for a hobby that makes you want to get up RIGHT NOW and go do it!

We want you to be passionate about this hobby!

Take a look at the list of hobbies below and if one of them gives you a tingly feeling in your stomach like you just want to go do it now, that is the one for you!

As you will see, they can be intense or relaxing, active or passive, some demand talent but others don’t. I’ll be honest- every single one of these makes me want to go outside right now!

Hobbies you can take up outdoors:

  1. Hike amazing places with amazing views
  2. Bird watching
  3. Stand up paddle boarding (do it on a lake = relaxing, on a river = thrill-seeking!)
  4. Kayaking (again, lake = relaxing, river = thrill-seeking!)
  5. Swimming in lakes
  6. Barbecuing at a park
  7. Meditating in the forest
  8. Rock climbing
  9. Geocaching (personally never done it but it sounds cool…maybe I just found my new hobby?)
  10. Fishing
  11. Ice Fishing
  12. Trail Running
  13. Landscape photography
  14. Picnicking (yes, this can be a hobby!)
  15. Parkour
  16. Sailing
  17. Sunbathing
  18. Even more ideas here

Conclusion

If it’s difficult for you to find time to spend outdoors, take some of your normal activities outside.

Working outside or barbecuing instead of making dinner in the kitchen can be game-changers for your day.

Even short breaks from work to take a walk or a stop at the park on the way home can have a dramatic improvement on your life.

If you have kids, they need to spend time outdoors so why not go play with them instead of flipping on the tube?

No matter what you do, spending time outside daily will have a noticeable impact on your mental health and probably physical health as well.