Five Proven Ways Spending Time in Nature Inspires Creativity

By Dhaval Patel

Any person with a desk job has probably had that one moment where they look outside into the world and think they could do more, work better and get more accomplished if they could just have a few minutes outside. Whether you crave a breath of fresh air or a long walk through the wilderness, there is nothing quite like the lure of nature when you are stuck inside struggling to get through your day.

While many people yearn for some time in nature just to have a break from their mundane 9–5 jobs, there are several studies that have found that spending time in nature is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. In fact, here are five proven ways in which researchers have found that spending time in nature will help inspire creativity.

1. Nature Can Help You Get Inspired

A study done by Stanford University found that when people spend time in a natural environment, they experience a natural shift in how they view time. In short, when you spend time in nature, you tend to feel a sense of “awe” and as though time is expanding. Instead of feeling pressured by time, or a lack of time, people tend to enjoy a “time abundance” when they are in nature.

Spending time in nature can not only help you reduce stress, and slow down but it can actually help you find that inspiration you are looking for in your creative endeavors as you get in this “time abundance” mindset.

2. Nature Can Boost Your Memory

A great memory can be a very important asset when it comes to reaching your full creative potential. A sharp memory can help you pull new ideas and come up with creative solutions that you may not have thought of otherwise. A study from the University of Michigan found that students’ memories improved once they spent time in nature.

All of the student participants took a memory test. One group then took a walk in an arboretum and the other took a walk through some city streets. When both groups returned, the students who walked in nature scored 20% better on their tests, while the students who walked through the city, didn’t show any consistent improvement.

3. Nature Can Help You Overcome Creative Blocks

Nothing is as frustrating as having a tight deadline and being bogged down with a creative block. The good news is quality time outdoors can help you overcome that block.

A study done by psychologists from the University of Utah and the University of Kansas, that looked at the impact of nature on creativity found that spending some quality time outside improved people’s Remote Associates Test results.

This test, also known as RAT measures creative potential using word associations. The test was given to 56 participants going on a four-day hiking expedition. Twenty-four of these participants took the test before they began their hiking trip. The 32 other participants took it on the fourth day of their hiking test. Researchers ultimately found that four days in nature helped participants improve their test scores by 50 percent.

4. Nature Increases Brain Function

In order for the brain to function at its highest possible level, you need to be able to reduce fatigue and boost your energy levels. This allows your brain to restore itself so you can start thinking of new ideas and harnessing your highest analytical abilities. According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, just twenty minutes a day outside is all you may need in order to allow your brain to refresh, restore and start functioning again.

5. It Improves Your Mental Health

If you are struggling with your mental health, you will never be able to reach your full creative potential. Spending time in nature can help boost your mood and improve your overall mental well-being.

In a study from the mental health organization known as MIND, participants were either assigned to go for a walk in nature or for a walk in a shopping mall. The study ultimately found that 71% of participants had reduced symptoms of depression after their walk in nature. As for the group of participants who walked through the shopping center, 22% of these participants were more depressed after their walk.

Next time you are struggling to bring some of your ideas to fruition, consider spending some time in nature, it may be better spent then sitting in front of a screen trying to come up with the creative solution you are looking for.

Written by Dhaval Patel and published by Medium/Thriveglobal on January 18th, 2017

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