Nature’s Impact on Mental Health and Work Productivity

In a River Mountain survey of 400 workers in the DC area, we asked participants to give their opinion of the statement “Getting out into nature makes me feel better and improves my mental health?” Not surprisingly, over 90% of participants said that statement is ‘very true of what I believe.”

Over the past decade, a number of different studies have documented how experiences in nature are beneficial for human health and well-being. I’ve linked one here from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health published by Bjorn Grinde and Grete Patil. This is also a good article from NBC News about the benefits of increased access to natural scenery on “employees’ mood, morale, and productivity”. As an aside, I love how they mention the benefits of exposure to “the sounds of flowing water and smells of the forest”. Two River Mountain staples!

We all know how getting outdoors makes us feel. In short, the majority of us instantly feel less stressed and more relaxed.

Digging further into how and why nature is good for our mental health is not what I’d like to write about today. Instead, what I find interesting is this question - if we know it’s good for us, why don’t we experience it more? What are the barriers that keep us from getting outside and improving our mental health and productivity? Below are a few of the barriers and how River Mountain was designed to overcome them.

The Increase in Screen Time and Technology Use

Since Covid-19, more and more of us are transitioning to a remote work routine. In our DC survey, we asked the question “After covid, how many days a week do you anticipate working from home?” 28% of participants said 1-2 days a week and 53% of participants said 3+ days a week. Those are staggering numbers. 

In the world already saturated with screen time and constant distraction before the rise in remote work, the workforce is now being asked to spend entire work days, and in some cases entire work weeks, in front of a computer screen. Add that to the social media apps and streaming services designed to keep our eyeballs hooked (the avg person spends over 3 hours per day on their phone), and it’s no wonder we don’t have any time to get outdoors. And worst of all - increasing screen time has been linked to increased levels of stress, distraction, and even obesity.  At River Mountain, we have all the amenities to help you get your work done, but we also have the natural surroundings to help you find work-life balance.

Accessibility and Budget

Getting out into nature is not as easy as it sounds. It takes planning, money for gear, and in some cases, it takes experience. River Mountain was designed to make access to nature easy, comfortable, and affordable. Our glamping pods are plush with all the amenities you’d find in a 5 star hotel; our common spaces offer beautiful views that inspire; our experiences are for all levels; and our staff is here to help with anything you need. And with our price points starting at $62/night, River Mountain makes the outdoors affordable. You don’t need to plan anything beyond finding your glamping pod and clicking ‘Reserve’!

River Mountain makes nature more accessible to workers by putting nature literally right in front of them. Look up from your laptop to find inspiration staring out at blue skies, Warriors Ridge, and Sweet Root Creek. And when you want to take a break, shut it down for a 30 minute hike along the most picturesque, beautiful creek in America that’s only 30 feet away! And after the work day winds down, physically separate yourself from your work with a sunset toast of free craft beer and wine and sit around the campfire with fellow workers and travellers.

I Don’t Like Roughing It

One of the last things we found in our survey is that a large percentage of people don’t like the bugs, sleeping bags, tents, and all the things that come with camping. If that’s you (or even if it’s not you), then River Mountain is your place. Don’t let the elements associated with camping keep you from getting outdoors! You can have it all. You can stay in luxurious accomodations with amazing food, remote work amenities, laundry services, housekeeping, etc., while also getting all the outdoors you want. 

I hope River Mountain becomes known as a place that increases everyone’s access to the outdoors; and a place that improves our mental health. 2020 has been rough for all of us, and everyone needs an escape to a beautiful and friendly place. Whether you’re a remote worker, a small work group, or looking into a large corporate retreat, or you’re just looking to get outside for a few days, I hope you reserve a pod with us today. Our facility, and the nature that surrounds us, is truly one of a kind.

Ryan Tyrrell
Co-Founder, River Mountain