Apple CEO Tim Cook shares his No. 1 strategy for clearing his head: ‘It’s better than any other thing you could possibly do’
If you’re looking for a way to clear your head, just take a step outside.
At least, that’s what Apple CEO Tim Cook does. The 62-year-old manages one of the world’s largest tech companies, with a rabid fanbase and $2.62 trillion market cap, creating a wide scope of pressures and responsibilities. Getting out into nature eases those tensions and helps Cook mentally reset, he told GQ on Monday.
It’s a “palate cleanser for the mind,” Cook said. “It’s better than any other thing you can possibly do.”
Cook, a native of Mobile, Alabama, has spent the past 20-plus years based in Silicon Valley — where activities like hiking and kayaking can feel overshadowed by glitzy tech startup campuses. But his previous stops in North Carolina and Colorado prompted his infatuation with the outdoors, he said.
“The outdoors were always accessible there, other than some infrequent snowstorm or something,” Cook said. “I always think about hiking and the things that really settle my mind when I’m here [at work].”
Getting outside the Bay Area’s tech bubble helps, he added: “You can hike so many different places [in California]. It’s almost a sin not to go out and enjoy it.”
Doctors are increasingly prescribing nature walks — sometimes alongside medications — to help patients with symptoms from anxiety and depression to stress and obesity, according to a 2020 paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Spending at least 120 minutes in natural environments like parks, woodlands and beaches is associated with positive wellbeing, especially for people who live in urban areas, a 2019 study published in Scientific Reports found.
The study observed 20,000 people who tracked their outdoor activities for seven days. Its data showed that good health and wellbeing peaked after spending 200-300 minutes outside.
Cook, who has an estimated net worth of $1.8 billion, isn’t the only billionaire who prioritizes outdoor time. Oprah Winfrey has a daily hiking ritual, and is known as an avid gardener. Mark Zuckerberg wrote in 2020 that he sometimes hunts in his free time, and Tyler Perry flies radio-controlled planes as a hobby.
It’s fairly simple to be more intentional about spending time in nature, experts say.
“Even if you only have a few minutes, consider taking a walk or eating a meal outside,” Jared Hawkins, a therapist and assistant professor at Utah State University, wrote in a university blog post last year. “Bringing your attention to the view of trees, the sound of birds, or the feel of wind can help you be mindful and decrease stress.”
You can also take on hobbies like hiking, fishing or star-gazing, in addition to gardening and having picnics at nature sites, Hawkins recommended.