Plagued with writer’s block? Try stepping away from your computer and taking a long walk and a deep breath in nature to boost your creativity (and harness a mountain of health benefits).
According to a study to be published in the journal PLOS One, just four days in nature away from electronic devices is associated with a 50% boost in creativity test scores. In fact, researcher David Strayer of the University of Utah announced in a statement that taking a hike in nature could remedy the downsides of “burying yourself in front of a computer 24/7,” and give one “a rationale for trying to understand what is a healthy way to interact in the world.”
Of the 56 people (average age 28) involved in the study, 24 took creativity tests the morning of a long, electronics-free wilderness hiking trip in Colorado, Maine, Washington, and Alaska. The other participants took the test on the fourth day of their trip and tested 50% higher than the first group.
Study authors agree that they don’t know if the higher test scores should be attributed to being away from electronics, being in nature, or both. They do mention that the color green is often associated with creativity even in scientific research, such as the study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, wherein participants who were shown the color green gave more imaginative answers than those who were shown the color white.
Benefits Found in Nature
As Strayer says, stepping away from electronics and enjoying the benefits of nature has been shown to be highly therapeutic. Being in sunlight without sunscreen for a moderate amount of time helps add up to our daily recommended amount of vitamin D, and walking anywhere—but especially in clean forest air—is a healthy habit in our modern, sedentary lifestyle. Several studies have been conducted in Japan regarding forest bathing, in which walking in nature has been linked with an, on average, 50 percent boost to the immune system.
Detrimental Effects of Electromagnetic Fields
The effect of electronics—and, in particular, electromagnetic fields—on the human body has also been vigorously studied, though there’s still a call for more. Cell phones and their EMFs, for instance, have been associated with disrupting the brain due to their frequent proximity to our heads, causing long-term cognitive decline and even having carcinogenic effects. (The World Health Organization has actually put cell phones in the same class as lead and chloroform due to the materials inside of it and, many claim, its radiation.)Fertility and DNA are also at risk because of laptop Wi-Fi. The heat of a laptop so close to one’s genitals can literally kill sperm and significantly bruise the quality of the rest, and its low-dose radiation is suspected of being 400 percent more damaging to human cells than high dose radiation, in no small part thanks to our frequent use.
So, take a hike!