If you’d like to be more creative, put down your smartphone, and lace up your hiking boots! That’s the upshot of a new study that found unplugging and getting outdoors helps our brains generate original ideas, and come up with creative solutions to problems.
Researchers at the University of Utah gave volunteers a creativity test before a wilderness backpacking trip, a 4-day trek they undertook without laptops, iPhones, and other high-tech devices. Then, they repeated the test just before the trip was over. And guess what? The scores improved by 50 percent!
But why does spending time in nature boost creativity? Lead researcher Dr. David Strayer believes it’s because nature can be awe-inspiring. Also, being around trees, streams and birds is much less stressful than hearing constant car horns, cellphones, and other electronic devices. And when we’re less distracted, we’re more likely to daydream, and let our minds wander – which boosts creativity.
Don’t have time to take a 4-day hike? Simply being in a room with a high ceiling – or being outside for an hour - can increase creativity.
A study at the University of Minnesota found that volunteers in rooms with high ceilings used more abstract thinking and solved problems in more imaginative ways. While people in rooms with lower ceilings focused more on facts and details. Researchers believe it’s because lower ceilings subconsciously feel confining, and reduce out-of-the-box creativity.