You know the years are passing when the months seem to be racing by. It feels like I just put the Christmas decorations away, but in just a few days summer will officially begin on Tuesday, June 20, at 9:24 pm Pacific Time. This is the summer solstice, the day with the most hours of sunlight all year.
The four seasons are created when sunlight shifts as our planet orbits the Sun and changes the tilt of its vertical axis. We reach the summer solstice the moment the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator. And yes, we have four seasons in san Diego. You just have to look a little harder!
On Tuesday and all week, you should notice the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day. Its rays hit the ground at a more direct angle. This is why it’s warmer in the summer. It’s not because the Sun is closer, it’s because the Sun is heating us in a more direct and therefore a more efficient way.
The longest day of the year isn’t usually the hottest day of the year. Ever wonder why? The Earth’s atmosphere, land mass, and the water of the oceans absorb incoming heat energy from the Sun and store it. It gets released back as heat at different rates. Once water and land build up stored heat over the course of the early weeks of summer, they start releasing it back into the atmosphere. This is why we start feelings the hottest summer temperatures into late July, August, or even September. This is called “seasonal temperature lag.”
Summer is the ideal time to encourage our biophilic connection to nature and reap the maximum benefits. It’s easier to do when the weather is so nice and there are so many fun things to do outside.
But most of us (me included!) have to actually work for a living. While we can’t always take the laptop to the beach, there are quite a few ways to incorporate more nature into your workday during the summer. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Take your lunch break outside. Stop eating lunch at your desk every day! It’s not healthy to shovel it in while you’re still reading work memos. Taking a break actually improves your focus and efficiency, especially if you can get outside. You don’t have to go buy lunch at a trendy outdoor bistro. Take your lunch cooler to a park bench or drive to a pretty spot, turn on the radio and enjoy. I’m guilty of eating at my desk way to often.
2. Bring the outdoors inside. If you really, truly can’t get outside, bring as much of summer in as you can. Open windows, or at least open blinds and curtains. If you don’t have a view outside, plan walking breaks past windows or into areas where there is maximum natural sunlight.
3. Get flexible. Many workplaces cut back to a four day work week or half-day Fridays during the summer. They find employee morale improves with the shortened work week without shortchanging productivity. If you can’t get your workplace to go with this plan, consider shifting your work hours a little earlier so there’s still plenty of sunlight left when you leave work for the day.
4. Hold meetings outside. Nothing blows a nice summer day like being stuck in a windowless conference room for hours on end. Why not move your meetings outside? With small groups or one on one meetings, consider walking and talking during a stroll. If a group is too big to fit on a path or sidewalk, move it to a nearby park or plaza.
5. Ride a bike or walk to work. With longer hours and nicer weather, you might be able to ditch your car a few days a week. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Is there a park and ride or offsite parking close to your workplace? Drive there, and then bike or walk the rest of the way. You’ll save a little gas and time and get some exercise too.
6. Flower power. Bring potted flowers to work and enjoy them at your desk all summer. Or bring cut flowers in from your own garden or get them at a farmer’s market to enjoy.
7. Work outside. While your laptop and beach sand aren’t the best mix, technology makes it a lot easier to be productive and enjoy being outside at the same time. Working outside will help you focus and de-stress. Take your tablet, phone, or laptop to a park, or drive to a nice spot and set up your favorite beach chair. You’re just a phone call away from the office in an emergency. Remember your sunglasses and sunscreen.
8. Play around. Scare up some co-workers and enjoy being active during lunchtime. Spend an hour shooting hoops, set up a net for volleyball or badminton, or head for a park and stage your own lunchtime bootcamp activities.
9. Organize a garden swap. If you and enough of your co-workers are growing fruits and veggies this summer, chances are good one person is overloaded with zucchini or tomatoes, and another has more lemons than they can use. Bring your excess produce to work on a regular schedule, and swap some crops during a lunch break. This is an excellent idea for anyone with dozens and dozens of veggies needing a good home.
10. Set your screensaver to a summer scene. This is our best fallback tip when you can’t see your way to daylight at all at work in summer, literally. Set up your desktop screensaver with a beautiful summer scene: your favorite beach, mountains, national park, or anyway summer getaway. Scientific studies show looking at scenes of nature improve your wellbeing, and even help your brain function better at work.
If you need help bringing nature into your life, Good Earth Plant Company is here to help whether it’s spring, summer, winter or fall. All you have to do is call!