NCET helps you explore business and technology
By Jon Edmondo
With the everyday stresses of life and demands at work, our creativity can take the backseat to more pressing tasks at hand. The problem is we need creative thinking to generate innovative solutions to improve products and services and to increase productivity. Without creativity, we can’t transform our lives and businesses. From recent research, it sounds like heading outside is the answer to recharge and unleash your creative self.
Researchers like Stephen and Rachel Kaplan and Jennifer Davis-Berman found there are many positive cognitive benefits of interacting in nature, including enhanced blood flow to the brain and increased neural activity. In a Forbes article about creativity, Alan Kohll talks about incorporating elements of nature into your work environment to reduce stress, increase productivity and increase creativity.
In a Redbook article by Suzy Frisch, she comments on how researchers have found many benefits to taking a walk on your lunch hour, including feeling happier about your work and life and enhancing your creativity. David Strayer, from the University of Utah, along with Ruth and Paul Atchley, are proponents of Attention Restoration Theory (ART).
ART suggests that interactions with nature are particularly effective in replenishing depleted attentional resources and increase creativity. In fact, they used the Remote Associates Test (RAT) to show a 50% improvement in creativity after just a few days in nature.
There must be something to this as Darwin, Tesla and Einstein spent time outside walking in Gardens and Groves to help them think. More modern contemporaries like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Weiner use walking meetings to help clear people’s mind from office distractions and increase creative thinking. Japan has adopted the practice of Shinrin Yoku, or literally, bathing in nature, to improve health and creativity. Denmark, Sweden and Singapore are just a few countries who have created government agencies tasked with making it easier to access nature in cities, along with educating residents about the positive cognitive and health benefits of the outdoors.
It doesn’t take much time outside! Just 15 to 20 minutes reduces cortisol levels and releases endorphins, which help jumpstart creative thinking. Take a walk at lunch or spend 20 minutes at the Truckee River, enjoying the sights and sounds of the water. In Wallace Nichols’ book “Blue Mind” he states that “Time and Time again, researchers have found that proximity to water strengthens the positive effects that environment has on well-being…for people who are extremely distracted… just taking themselves to the edge of water can open up the creative process. You can also visit a local park and sit on a bench or take a bike ride on the Truckee River Trail. Just get outside and improve your creativity and health!
And by the way, leave your phone at home or the office.
Jon Edmondo is a New Business Development Manager for Gexpro Services and NCET’s VP of Tech Wednesdays. NCET is a member-supported non-profit that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology.