New research shows that backpackers scored 50% better on a creativity test after spending four days in nature while disconnected from all electronic devices.The study reports:
Our modern society is filled with sudden events (sirens, horns, ringing phones, alarms, televisions, etc.) that hijack attention. By contrast, natural environments are associated with a gentle, soft fascination, allowing the executive attentional system to replenish.My "research" isn't based on backpacking, however. It's based on visits I make to local parks in Seattle. And I do take a piece of technology with me--my digital SLR camera. But I use it to help me focus--literally and figuratively--on nature, my temporary natural surroundings. I view the forest, but I also view the trees (and other flora and fauna).
That experience takes me away from myself and challenges I'm facing and reading or hearing about in the news. And I return reinvigorated to my home, my desk, other realities. (And I return with digital memories of the experience so I can relive them within my home, at my desk. I also share them with family and friends.)
That natural experience arms me with new energy, new openness, to write, to think, to learn.
Sure, backpacking or driving for hours and miles for a day hike in the mountains can be wonderful creative experiences. But I like trekking through local parks for a quick, simple burst of energy.
Another report on this study appeared in the Los Angeles Times: "Communing with nature can recharge your creativity, study finds."
It reports a reaction to the study by James P. Nicolai, MD, medical director of the Andrew Weil, MD, Integrative Wellness Program in Tucson, Ariz.:
He says the new findings are “right on.” Disconnecting from media technology allows people to stay in the now, and nature can do the rest, he says. “Take a 10- to 15-minute walk in a park five days a week,” he says. Or “if you can’t get to nature, bring nature to you by having flowers in your house or plants in your space.”__________
Both articles are featured today, Dec. 13, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Creativity Connections--available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.