How much time do you spend in front of a computer, TV, phone, or other electronic device? According to research psychologists at the University of Utah and the University of Kansas, people who take a break from technology and immerse themselves in nature improve their creativity (PLOS One, Dec. 12). The researchers found that backpackers who went on a wilderness hike for four days without any electronic devices scored higher on creativity tests after the trip than before they left.
Today we’re all consumed and absorbed with technology which can be mentally draining, but also can limit our creative juices. We “google” everything rather than using our creative minds to consider possible solutions or answers. We’re spoon-fed knowledge and information without using our critical thinking minds and challenging ourselves. We rely too much on technology and for some it becomes an addiction and crutch. In the process, we neglect other aspects of life, such as experiencing nature and the outdoors. If our creative minds are not stimulated we will lose that valuable resource.
Limiting our physical activity and exposure to nature can result in perpetual fatigue, depression, and increased physical ailments. Exercise is one of the best ways to activate our minds and bodies. My dissertation was on the physical and psychological benefits of exercise. I ran a six week exercise program for college-aged students and older adults measuring their physical fitness levels and psychological well-being before and after the program and compared it to a control group who didn’t exercise. Another component of my study involved whether the subjects had exercise goals or not. The results of the study found that the groups who exercised scored significantly higher both physically and emotionally. The group who also set goals had the highest level of positive change.
Whether you take a walk on the beach, sit out on your patio, ride your bike, or swim in your pool, decide that time away from technology is time well spent. Engage in conversation with a friend or spouse that stimulates your brain and creates opportunity for imagination and innovation. Most importantly, disengage from technology, allow your mind to wander and see where it takes you.