Nature, relaxation and detachment help recovery from work

Submitted on Wed, 06/21/2017 - 13:40

A study conducted at the University of Tampere on recovering from work led to the formulation of four guidelines for better recovery.

A walk in the park during the lunch break and relaxation sessions help coping during the workday

A study conducted at the University of Tampere has shown that taking fifteen-minute walks in the park and participating in relaxation sessions during the lunch break were connected to better focus and less fatigue  in the afternoon before going home. Participating in relaxation sessions was also connected to feeling less stressed. Physiological recovery indicated changes in blood pressure during the afternoon, which was lower in all groups (also in the control group). This change was most significant among the people who took a walk in the park.

Short breaks should be taken during the workday

When we asked how employees maintain or regulate their energy levels during the workday with short breaks, we observed that work-related strategies, such as concentrating on pleasant tasks, setting new work goals and helping others, give energy for working. Additionally, exercise, such as outdoor activities in the fresh air, proved to be energising especially among those people who also used work-related strategies. Activities related to the employee’s private life, such as surfing on the internet, did not prove to be a good means of recovery. However, the people who had a compulsive approach to work, gained energy from those activities as well. The successful maintenance of energy levels during the workday also promoted recovery during the free time after work.

Emotional dwelling on work-related issues prevents recovery from work

Both emotional and problem-oriented dwelling on work-related issues during free time was common and lasting among the employees examined during a two-year period. Forty per cent of the research participants belonged to the groups of people who invested emotional capacity on dwelling and in whose work both quantitative and qualitative requirements were also emphasised. In addition, they did not feel as well as those who spent less time dwelling or whose dwelling was problem-oriented.

Exercise in a natural environment predicts a better well-being

Exercise in a natural environment was the most important factor that mattered when the researchers examined the exposure to natural elements both at work (plants, views from the window) and at home (views from the windows, balconies, yards) and its connection to the employees’ well-being. According to the results, nature-based leisure activities can be used to promote the well-being of employees.

The results come from a research project in the field of psychology conducted at the University of Tampere in Finland called “Recovery from work stress: Integrating perspectives of work and environmental psychology”. The research project was funded by the Academy of Finland. The study consisted of two sub-projects: a two-year longitudinal study of 664 employees and an intervention study with approximately 150 participants who went on walks in the park or participated in a relaxation session during their lunch break.

For further information, please contact the research group:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow Jessica de Bloom tel. +358 50 318 6070,
Professor Ulla Kinnunen tel. +358 40 190 1386,
Professor Kalevi Korpela tel. +359 50 318 6130,
Doctoral researcher Marjaana Sianoja tel. p. +358 50 318 6144,