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It’s happens to us all. Whether it’s a book you want to write or painting you want to create, the dreaded white page mocks at you from your desk. Tracie Claiborne from the Scrap Gals Podcast, calls it, “fear of the blank page”. Staring at it will not get your muse to come. Spending hours scrolling through pinterest will not help either. In fact, science has proven too much computer time dulls your creative spirit.
So, what’s the answer?
First let’s start by asking ourselves what is creativity. Well, according to Webster it is, “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work”. Well that’s simple enough. But how do we ignite that imagination or find those original ideas?
A study was done in 2012 by David Strayer to see if being disconnecting from technology would increase creativity. He had two study groups. The first group went out on a four-day hike (no electronics allowed). The other waited behind until he returned. They could spend as much time as they wanted with electrons while waiting. When the hikers returned, he had both groups take several creative thinking tests. The results were astounding! The hiking group scored almost 50% higher!
When we bombard our brain with non-stop information, from email, social media, television, mile long to do lists, those original ideas and imagination just don’t surface. We need to stop, disconnect and let our brain rest. And what better place than on a hike in beautiful natural surroundings. The group of backpackers did better on the creativity test because they had given their prefrontal cortex a break.
The study goes into more detail about how when we are engaged in multi-tasking and general busy-ness we are putting too much on our prefrontal cortex of the brain causing us to be distracted and cognitively fatigued and of course making it too hard to come up with new ideas.
Being out in nature creates what scientists call the ‘soft-fascination’ effect. That calm meditative feeling you get when you go for a hike or sit and watch an evening sunset. It allows your mind more easily to access an introspective, thoughtful state and allow the imagination to do its thing. It enables us to imagine other perspectives and scenarios, imagine the future, remember the past, understand ourselves and others, and create meaning from our experiences.
But who has time for a four-day hike?!
No worries. Other studies have shown as little as 25 minutes of walking in a nearby park has the same effect. And when you go for that walk be mindful. Observe the trees, flowers, birds and butterflies. Let your body relax and your spirit soak in the beauty that surrounds you. No music either, just nature.
So, if you find yourself staring at that dreaded blank page, disconnect and give your prefrontal cortex a break. Get those creative juices flowing. Take your creativity to new heights – go for a hike, walk in the park, watch birds at a feeder, look up at the stars – the possibilities are endless.