By Michelle Collingridge
As we enter a new year, we’re looking at the trends that shaped 2022. Among the ongoing changes of a post-pandemic world, nature offers benefits to our mental and physical health, while providing opportunities for better work-life balance and healthier productivity in the workplace.
The overwhelming demands of the day-to-day grind, coupled with a myriad of other personal, social, political and vocational stressors have resulted in rising stress levels among Americans in 2022. In fact, recent studies by the American Psychological Association show that in the last year, external contributors like COVID-19, inflation, and threatened civil liberties have resulted in 27% of adult Americans being “too stressed to function.”
What can be done? The answer could be just outside your front door.
A Prescription for Wellness
I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees. -Henry David Thoreau
Research continues to show that people who are regularly exposed to nature are happier, more generous, healthier and calmer. Studies also indicate that children who engage with nature benefit long term – even well into adulthood – as a result of their time spent outside.
It’s clear that regular connection to nature is relaxing and rewarding – but can it actually be beneficial enough to be used as a prescribed, medical solution? The answer is simply, yes.
Recently, Canada’s outdoor prescription initiative, PaRx went as far as to champion a new health plan to directly combat a slew of ailments. As Canada’s first national “evidence-based nature prescription program”, doctors are bringing evidence-driven outdoor strategies to the forefront of treating complex health issues such as cancer, anxiety, depression, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure (to name a few).
Research-supported findings revealed that even just 15 minutes outside reduces stress-hormone cortisol levels significantly, while stabilizing heart-rate variability. Here are some other findings:
- 90% of people are happier when they’re outside.
- Just two hours a week outdoors promotes overall wellbeing and improves memory, creativity, and work satisfaction.
- Nature therapy activates tumor-killing cells and improves overall wellbeing of cancer patients.
- The outdoors promote better mood, increase energy, reduce stress and anxiety, and reduce pain while improving heart health.
- Senior Citizens who live closer to “green spaces” live longer.
For kids, specifically:
- Kids who spend more time outdoors have less depression and anxiety.
- Green spaces improve test scores and graduation rates.
- A 20 minute walk outdoors can improve concentration scores in kids with ADHD, rivaling effects of prescription stimulant medication.
- Kids who play outside have better focus and motor skills.
The Pandemic Changed the Way We Spend Our Time and Money
Leave the roads; take the trails. –Pythagoras
In the last 3 years, a variety of factors have led millions of families, individuals, and workplaces to embrace the outdoors as an alternative to the claustrophobic interiors of our homes and offices.
As a result, outdoor brands have seen an influx of clientele – many of whom are new to the outdoor industry.
Data reveals that in 2020 specifically, 160.7 million people – 7.1 million more than 2019 – participated in at least one outdoor activity. Hiking trails became crowded, purchases of fishing licenses went up, and biking and ebike sales soared. Camping and many other recreational activities also saw a rise in popularity.
Today, these trends continue to make waves in how we spend our time and money.
Brands Embracing the Wild
In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. -John Muir
Brands have also seen opportunities to capitalize on the outdoors. In 2018, outdoor brand L.L. Bean created initiatives for their employees that encourage stepping into nature as a creative and productive workspace. L.L. Bean’s Be an Outsider at work initiative supports the idea that the outdoors builds creativity and happiness, leading to an overall increase in productivity in the workplace.
The brand not only continued to champion their outdoor-centered employee initiative, but saw a 14% increase from 2020 with record sales of 1.8 billion in 2021.
Other notable trends:
- Camping gear hit its highest demand in summer of 2021 and, in 2022, and continues to see above pandemic levels of interest. Various items – from freeze-dried products to sleeping bags fluctuated in popularity, but were at high levels all the same.
- Emergency supply items and gear also saw surges in demand, with a staggering 303% increase, year-over-year, since 2019.
- RVing saw an increase in popularity with 36% of America’s “leisure travelers,” (roughly 65 million people) planning to go RVing in 2022.
Brands and markets grew:
- Polaris, an outdoor recreational, all-terrain vehicle brand, grew its base by 40% in 2020, and continued to see record sales in 2021 with a 17% increase to $8.198 million in earnings.
- And the ATV/UTV market is predicted to grow 6.65% annually between 2022 and 2028 according to ResearchAndMarkets.com.
Fueling the Curious and the Wild
In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous. -Aristotle
At Spawn, we’re an ad agency that fuels the curious and the wild – often through time spent and exploration of the outdoors. Our initiatives help engage our employees, promote wellbeing as an agency, and better help us connect with our clients. Here are a few examples of ways we fuel the curious and the wild:
- Peak-a-Week hikes in the summer
- Small group camping trips
- Ski day at Alyeska Resort
- Celebrating our “weekend wanderings” on Instagram
- “Stay Active” Bonus of $200 to spend on sports and race fees, ski passes etc.
- Bike to Work Day
- Hybrid home-and office-structure to allow for better work-life balance
Individuals at Spawn have shared their time and talent to get others outdoors, offering photography and drone tips, outdoors-inspired art, fishing expertise and family camping solutions – even going as far as overnight camping and hiking mountain ridges with toddlers in tow!
For us, being outside is the very definition of being alive. Our adventures open our minds and fuel our creativity, flexibility and adaptability.
Here are a few testimonials from myself and other Spawners:
Michelle Collingridge, Content Strategist and Account Manager
The pandemic shifted my priorities so much that I decided to turn down my acceptance to Harvard and move to Alaska. My love for writing has been nurtured and inspired by the time I spend outdoors, and my family’s overall well being has dramatically improved since we have embraced nature as our favorite playground.
Amy Adams, Director of Digital and Social Engagement
The bigness of the outdoors allows me room to let my creativity grow and go down paths I might not have found inside an office space. The time my mind wanders in nature often leads to my most creative ideas. The outdoor activities we do as an agency, like a Peak-A-Week, also forges special bonds with co-workers. It builds a layer of trust, that I feel, fosters a freedom to take chances and produce the best work.
Anita Laulainen, Assistant Art Director
When I’m out in nature, by myself, everything else fades away. No worries, no stresses, no fears…it’s just me, in the moment, feeling the most alive I’ve ever felt. I can let myself be in awe of my surroundings, just taking it all in. If I’m in the mood for it, I’ll pull out my camera and do my best to capture the view to look back on later. But in that specific moment, I am there only to be present and feel one with myself.
Find Time to Live Wild
At some point in life, the world’s beauty becomes enough. -Toni Morrison
If you’re seeking out the antidote to the stresses of life, the outdoors offer an unrivaled solution for mental and physical health, work-life-balance, and more.
We work with brands to inspire a sense of well-being, and a spirit of adventure by incorporating a genuine human understanding into everything we do. Part of that understanding is using nature’s grandeur to inspire, heal and motivate not only ourselves, but to bring all the magnificence of the outdoors to everything we do.
We know adventures are best when shared with a partner who shares your passion, so come see us for insights and unparalleled experience – for your brand and more.