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The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

Breaking the Cycle: the importance of working outside

Keyur Joshi
Studying Outdoors: a student writes down her ideas at a table outside after class.

In a world where Americans spend 90% of their time on average indoors, our perpetual screens and dim workspaces could be costing us more than we imagine. As society becomes increasingly reliant on technology, students need to recognize the much-needed benefits of working outdoors and in different environments.

Humans need regular exposure to light. It helps the nervous and endocrine systems function, regulates melatonin levels and lowers the risk of health complications like myopia. When we starve our bodies of light, we invite feelings of monotonous exhaustion and baggy eyes like a self-induced bout of seasonal depression.

No matter how nice your bedroom is, it cannot provide you with an adequate amount of light. A 2019 study by the National Center for Biotechnical Information found outdoor light levels averaged 100 times the levels of illumination for indoor spaces. When we stay in our constant indoor habitats, it’s no wonder we constantly feel sluggish.

While only a few minutes of sunlight exposure are necessary in extreme summertime heat, harsher winters demand up to a few hours; normally, somewhere in between is sufficient. Studying outside also gives us some variety in our habits and allows us to become more productive by decreasing stress levels and increasing mental wellbeing.

So what keeps us in these routines? Mixed with the lure of our screens, the tendency to submit to our usual study habits and to “just finish” a task can trap us indoors and exhaust us.

“Habits strengthen through repetition,” psychiatrist Alana Mendelsohn wrote in her article “Creatures of Habit: The Neuroscience of Habit and Purposeful Behavior.” She describes how submitting to these negative and automatic cycles causes us to turn away from goal-making patterns and forget to be purposeful with what’s around us. Our habits hold us back inside. 

Breaking this cycle requires doing something new. For anyone looking for an adventure, the area surrounding Northwood offers a plethora of local hiking spots for spring

But even just taking a walk can effectively help relax the claustrophobic tightness in your mind. Try working in a new place—in the backyard, at your neighborhood park, or outside a local coffee shop. Watch the sunset. Try a class that enables you to go outside during the day, like Horticulture. Find a change of scenery, even if it’s still indoors. 

The next time you feel the darkness of the room or the monotonous white space on the screen crowding into your mind, take a few moments to consider moving under the open sky. Give yourself time and grace. Productivity, you know, sometimes needs a little sunlight and a pinch of variety to keep growing. 

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About the Contributors
Hannah Liu, Staff Writer
Hannah was taken into custody for the destruction of her sleep schedule and now writes articles for the Howler to pay off the damages. When she's not sneaking off to Narnia or getting lost in a book, you can probably find her playing with her German Shepherd, drinking boba and thinking about everything. Or searching for her many lost water bottles.
Keyur Joshi
Keyur Joshi, Photographer
Keyur Joshi is a junior, photographer, and business team member for The Northwood Howler. Keyur is a fan of 80s and light rap music, and he often listens to music while working or when he has free time. One of Keyur's hobbies is competing in competitive robotics.

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