Is the daily grind bringing you down? Research shows that spending time with Mother Nature can help spark our creativity.
Spending time in nature has always been a great way to relax and unwind. New research, however, suggests that activities such as hiking can actually improve creativity.
In a four-day study conducted by the University of Utah and the University of Kansas, researchers tested 56 subjects using the Remote Associates Test, which uses word associations to measure problem solving and creativity. Those who were tested on their fourth day spent in nature scored 50 percent better than those who were tested on their first day.
A key component of the study was that the hikers who spent time outdoors were required to leave behind all electronic devices. The researchers suggest that the increase in creative capacity might be linked to the separation from these devices, which encourage “multi-tasking to wits-end.” These devices place high demands on our executive functioning, which affects our ability to switch between tasks and to focus on single tasks, and avoid distracting thoughts and actions.
Researchers cite earlier research that suggests today’s children spend only 15 to 25 minutes daily engaged in outdoor play, while the average 8- to 18-year-old spends more than 7.5 hours consuming media through televisions, phones, and computers.
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Theodore D. Cosco, PhD (Cantab) CPsychol