Nature and creative thinking go hand in hand. And the best way to begin is to open the front door and step outside…
“It is the marriage of the soul with nature that makes the intellect fruitful, and gives birth to imagination.” Henry David Thoreau
If you’ve ever felt mentally burnt out and unable to focus on the (creative) task at hand, then you’re not alone. But there’s a quick fix. Trust me!
Whenever I’m stuck on a problem I get outside, blow the mental cobwebs away and always come back with a fresh perspective on my problem.
And what better time than August to find a bit more time to refuel the grey matter under blue skies? Somehow, August just has a slower pace of life for many of us because of the school holidays and quieter offices.
And now various research projects are adding scientific evidence to back up what many of us know intuitively. Namely that getting into nature and creative thinking go hand-in-hand.
Spending time in nature improves not just our physical health, but our mental health and creativity to boot. One experiment with a group of hikers in the US found a 50% increase in creative performance after a 4-6 day immersion in nature.
“Getting out in the green stuff really activates the grey stuff.” Tom Dixon, MD of Canopy & Stars
Try a change of scenery for fresh ideas
A little while ago, I was asked to get involved in a Canopy and Stars initiative called NatureWorks: Creativity Breaks. It gives companies and creative types the breathing space and opportunity to tackle their creative challenges in a natural environment, while staying in everything from a treehouse to a yurt (as I did, staying in Coracle the Yurt at the wonderful Crafty Camping in Dorset).
Canopy & Stars asked me to put together some tips about how to increase creativity and productivity whilst taking your own retreat in nature. Based on my own experience in creativity training, and the research around the topic of nature and creative thinking, these fall into three areas that reflect our natural creative thinking processes and their respective brain wave states that impact our ideas:
1. Contemplation – time to consider your challenge in a relaxed yet alert state
2. Relaxation – time out to daydream, dawdle, walk, lie in a hammock and let your unconscious mind take over
3. Inspiration – aha! The idea sneaks up on you fuelled by what you’ve seen, heard and experienced on your break
I loved my experience in Coracle the Yurt and came away refreshed and relaxed and full of fledgeling ideas.