How to Get Sunshine When Your Full-Time Job Keeps You Indoors 9-5

When you have a traditional 9-to-5 that keeps you in an office all day, getting outside feels like a such a relief. The amount of time you spend outdoors can have a really positive impact on your mental, physical and emotional health. There are numerous benefits to getting outside, and even a brisk, ten-minute walk can help stabilize your mood and lower blood pressure.

Some say that traditional work schedules have limited freedom. Whether you agree or not, the reality is that a lot of us are going to have a traditional work situation once we graduate college (well, at least some of us will). That means going to work a couple hours after the sun rises, and leaving just as it sets. Having a job you like can help each day feel less static, but it's not the only factor to having a happier, healthier work life. 

Valerie Biesack, a 23-year-old legal assistant, has been in her full-time office setting for less than a year. While she’s able to at least have lunch outside at her current job, there are times where Valerie still struggles. “I never have issues with real claustrophobia,” she says. “But when I end up not being able to experience the outdoors for a few days, the cabin fever will hit me hard, and not being in a good mental state will always affect my work.”

Keep reading if you want to try and get more outside time in your everyday schedule, because it's definitely possible!

Switch up the scenery.

Do you have a long to-do list and a cute coffee shop to check out? If your job allows it, try to spend part of your day in a different location. You can even try to convince your boss to let you hold a meeting outside, if you don’t need a fancy PowerPoint or projector screen. Sometimes all it takes is a different building to kick things up a notch.

Rachel, an Amazon warehouse associate, has several past work experiences where she can reference how important it is to take a breather – whether it was a morning shift at Starbucks or an overnight stocking shift or working at a hospital. “If you have a long lunch break, go outside,” Rachel says. “Even if you [only] have a fifteen minutes, go outside. A little bit of sun and fresh air will do your body good.”

Ideally, you’re able to spend your lunch break outside. But the weather can be unpredictable, which can leave you stranded indoors. If that’s the case, Dr. Lise Janelle, a human potential expert and founder of the Centre For Heart Living & Global Heart Living movement, says using a therapy lamp is also an option. “Long winters with short days and lack of sunshine have been connected to seasonal affective disorders,” Dr. Janelle explains, “and can be helped through exposure to a full spectrum lamp.” 

And if you can't afford a therapy lamp, you could also ask for a desk near a window. Even if it's raining, seeing the light and having the opportunity for fresh air may be beneficial if you're struggling. 

Ditch the middleman (that’s your car or ride-sharing app).

If you’re only a couple of miles away from your office building, try walking or biking. It may take a little extra time, but it might just be worth it for the extra fresh air and sunshine you’re going to get.

If you live in a crazy busy city and aren’t close enough to your building to walk or bike, check out the public transport system. It’s not completely the same as walking to work, but you do get a larger exposure to fresh air and social interaction than you would if you were driving. And I know this isn’t always possible. Sometimes you have to use your car to get to and from work. That’s totally fine.

“If you happen to drive a lot,” Valerie says, “drive with the windows down.” Who wouldn’t want to speed (safely) down the highway with the wind blowing through their hair while watching the sunset? Seems like a good idea to me.

Related: 6 Workouts That'll Help You Feel Chill Again After a Stressful Week

Can’t get outside? Take some extra time to exercise.

While nothing can replace the feeling of sunshine on your skin during a warm, spring day, there are tons of exercises you can do after work to counteract the stressful week (or day) you may have had.

As I mentioned before, taking a brisk walk can improve your mood incredibly. Not to mention, you can do that pretty much anywhere. If you’re in the city, grab a friend and take a quick walk (or run) around your apartment complex (and over to that ice-cream shop you love so much).

But if a workout isn’t your thing, you can also try keeping up movement in the office. Try standing instead of sitting while you do work and take the stairs a few times a week. You can even make it a game between you and some of your coworkers and see who can walk the most steps during a workday.

While a 9-to-5 job may seem limiting, especially if you’re an active person, it doesn’t always have to be. And, if most of us are going to be working these, then it’s time we brainstorm innovative ways to transform our jobs to the 21st century.

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