Exposure to nature versus relaxation during lunch breaks and recovery from work: development and design of an intervention study to improve workers’ health, well-being, work performance and creativity

Abstract

BACKGROUND The objective of this research project is to understand and to improve workers' recovery from work stress. Although recovery during lunch breaks is the most common within-workday break, it has received only minor research attention. Therefore, we will study whether lunch breaks including a relaxation session or exposure to nature have more favorable outcomes than usually spent lunch breaks concerning: a) recovery processes, b) health, c) well-being, d) job performance and e) creativity. We approach recovery by combining the theoretical frameworks of work and environmental psychology. METHODS/DESIGN We conduct an intervention study in a sample of 268 knowledge-workers who engage in different lunch break activities for 15-minutes per day, two weeks in a row. We randomly assign participants to three experimental conditions: 1) exposure to nature, 2) relaxation and 3) control group (lunch break spent as usual). Online questionnaires before and after the intervention assess long term changes regarding recovery processes and the major outcome variables. Before, during and after the intervention, SMS and paper-pencil questionnaires measure the same constructs four times a day with fewer items. We also measure blood pressure and collect saliva samples to map cortisol excretion across the intervention period. A timed experimental task (i.e., the Alternative Uses Task) is used to examine differences in creativity between the three groups after the intervention period. DISCUSSION By combining the knowledge of work and environmental psychology about recovery and restorative experiences, by merging three recovery perspectives (settings, processes, and outcomes) and by using data triangulation, we produce valid results that broaden our view on mechanisms underlying recovery and enhance our understanding about their links to psychological, behavioural and physiological outcomes, resulting in a more comprehensive picture of work stress recovery in general. TRIAL REGISTRATION ClinicalTrials.gov Protocol Registration System NCT02124837. Registered 24 April 2014.

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-488

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Bloom2014ExposureTN, title={Exposure to nature versus relaxation during lunch breaks and recovery from work: development and design of an intervention study to improve workers’ health, well-being, work performance and creativity}, author={Jessica de Bloom and Ulla Kinnunen and Kalevi Korpela}, booktitle={BMC public health}, year={2014} }