Everyone’s Obsessed With This New Productivity Hack – What Does ‘Touching Grass’ Mean?

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If you spend most of your working hours on a computer, chances are, you need to ‘touch grass.’ Being productive is great, but not at the expenses of your physical and mental health.

‘Touching grass’ is the buzzword that is hard to avoid in tech and cryptocurrencies circles — it means to step away from the screen, get outside into nature, and turn your mind away from work issues.

It can also be deployed as a mild insult — if a community member is hammering away at a team, perhaps they should go and touch grass for awhile, effectively ‘go and cool off.’

Unfortunately, in our always-on digital world, many people find it difficult to get outside. For instance, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors.

One of the main culprits for this is too much screen time, with a report by AllConnect finding that internet users spend almost seven hours online daily, with people spending more than 40% of their waking hours looking at screens.

This is a problem when we consider that using screens for long periods has been associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. It can also increase the risk of burnout in tech workers if they are working on projects and sending emails late into the evening.

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Key Takeaways

  • “Touching grass” means stepping away from screens for better mental and physical health.
  • It’s a short reminder that spending time away from work and outside reduces stress, boosts mood, and enhances well-being and has become a popular phrase in tech circles.
  • Supporting employee wellness involves offering flexibility and promoting work-life balance.
  • “Touching grass” isn’t just a trend, it’s essential for optimal performance and a fulfilling life.

You Should Make Touching Grass a Part of Your Daily Routine

But what are the practical benefits of going outside? Dr. Holly Schiff, a doctor and licensed clinical psychologist for South Country Psychiatry notes that spending time outside can help to improve your overall health.

“It is so important to go outside, just even a few minutes a day can improve your mood, reduce stress, and increase your self-esteem. Natural daylight raises your serotonin levels, which is one of your body’s feel-good chemicals,” Schiff told Techopedia.

“Stepping outside into nature is beneficial for our mental health, especially with the change of scenery. There are psychological benefits of connecting with nature. Green exercise can help foster a more positive mindset, reduce anxiety and stress and have a significant impact on your mood.”

Just how much time you should spend outside is debatable, as no two people are the same. That being said, Schiff notes a few minutes is better than nothing, while a paper released by Scientific Reports notes that people who spent about 120 minutes per week outside reported better health and sense of well-being than those that didn’t at all.

The best rule of thumb is to spend as much time outside as you think you need, whether that’s going for a walk, having a coffee, sitting in the park or taking part in physical exercises like running or cycling. Anything that gets you away from a screen is a good place to start.

Staying Active as Part of the Enterprise Routine

It’s important to remember that spending time outside isn’t just nice on paper; many tech leaders are actively implementing it into their schedules. One such individual is Cache Merill, founder at Zibtek, a software development company, who’s made touching grass a part of his daily routine.

“The term I have heard is grounding, getting bare feet onto some elements outside like grass, dirt, rocks, or anything,” Merill told Techopedia.

“I don’t know the science behind it, but I love outside hours, and I am a tech geek through and through. I live in Utah, love the mountains, and ski. To me, there is something really refreshing about getting some outside time.

“It helps clear my head and balance my life. If I can get overall wellness, the time in front of my computer is a lot more focused and productive.”

Merill also notes that he tries to encourage employees to go outside, whether they’re playing a game like pickleball or badminton. One way he does this is simply by showing interest and asking them about their matches. This is a more organic approach to supporting employees than simply mandating they should go outside.

Supporting Employee Wellness

While employees have a role to play in getting outside, tech leaders are also responsible for helping to foster a positive working environment that supports employee wellness. The best way to do this, is to offer employees the flexibility to take breaks whenever they need to.

According to Roman Shauk, founder and CEO at EducateMe, such an environment “would involve organizations encouraging workers to spend more time outside through the use of wellness programs that involve outdoor activities, flexible working hours, and flexible breaks in outdoor settings, even during team-building events.

“Other ways include incentives such as paid memberships or a stipend towards a gym or membership to outdoor facilities.”

“Lastly there has to be a developed company culture in which work-life balance is valued and given priority. These are behaviors the leadership should demonstrate that communicate to workers that it is okay to take time away.”

The Bottom Line

Touching grass isn’t just a nice to have, or the buzzword of 2024, it’s a prescription.

Employees and tech leaders should be supporting each other in leading more active lives so they can perform at their best, while still leading a rewarding and fulfilling lifestyle.

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Tim Keary
Technology Specialist
Tim Keary
Technology Specialist

Tim Keary is a freelance technology writer and reporter covering AI, cybersecurity, and enterprise technology. Before joining Techopedia full-time in 2023, his work appeared on VentureBeat, Forbes Advisor, and other notable technology platforms, where he covered the latest trends and innovations in technology. He holds a Master’s degree in History from the University of Kent, where he learned of the value of breaking complex topics down into simple concepts. Outside of writing and conducting interviews, Tim produces music and trains in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).