Green breaks, or nature breaks, have become a trending topic in stress management, and for good reason! This practice focuses on short breaks that incorporate nature and greenery in some form. A green break could include time around plants indoors or a walk outside in a park. The idea is that a quick break to be among nature positively affects our stress management and mental health. Let’s explore the benefits of these breaks and how to incorporate them into your daily life.

The Benefits

A nature break is a way to utilize all your senses. You can see the greenery, you can touch the tree bark, you can smell flowers, you can hear the wind rustling and the birds chirping, and you can taste fresh air. Engaging the senses is a grounding technique that allows your mind to break from negative thoughts, worries, or anxious thinking. According to Harvard Health, a 2019 study from Frontiers in Psychology[i] found that “spending just 20 minutes connecting with nature can help lower stress hormone levels.” Further research reported by the National Library of Medicine found that “small-scale greenery”, including indoor gardens, green walls, decorative plans, and virtual greenery, helps reduce stress (National Library of Medicine[ii]). Whether you have twenty minutes for walking outside or one minute to water a plant on your desk, incorporating nature can be a great way to manage stress and improve mental health.

How to Incorporate a Green Break

Take a Walk. Maybe you have 5 minutes to walk down the block. Or maybe, you have an hour to go hiking in a nearby park. Either way, pay attention to the nature around you. Listen and take in the sights, sounds, and smells.

Plant a Small Garden. Test out your green thumb and plant a small indoor or outdoor garden. This can give you a quick escape during the day. Enjoy the colors of the flowers, the juiciness of fresh produce, or the scent of the herbs. If your thumb isn’t very green, then try a low-maintenance plant like a succulent.

Decorate Your Desk. Add a decorative plant to your desk space. It will not only give you something to look at as your eyes take a much-needed screen break, but it will also give you an excuse to get up and water it occasionally.

Add a Green Wall. Feeling extra creative? Add a green wall to your home or office space. It’s a quick and aesthetically pleasing way to bring nature into an urban setting.

Watch a Nature Video. In need of a quick nature break, but there’s no greenery around? That’s ok! Try a virtual green break instead. Pull up a landscape or nature video and pay attention to what you hear and see. Even though you might not be there in person, it can give your brain a quick escape.

Green breaks help give your mind a respite from the hustle and bustle of the day. Try incorporating one in your day and see how it affects your stress levels and mental health.

Written by BWS Lead Health Coach- Kelly Schlather, BS, ASCM – CEP

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