If you live in the city, you're probably more of an indoor person. It's probably not entirely by choice since getting out into a natural setting is tough when you're in the heart of a metropolis. However, according to Jonah Lehrer at the Wall Street Journal, a growing amount of evidence suggests hanging out in nature can increase your creativity, happiness and focus.
Photo by Emma Larkins.
Research from a forthcoming paper by researchers at the University of Kansas suggests that when you wander into untamed landscapes it calms your nerves and restores your brain power. As Lehrer points out, this can help you be more creative, happier and improve your focus. In the University of Kansas study, just three days in nature led to a 50 per cent increase in performances on creativity tests. However, even shorter stints in nature can have a benefit. Lehrer points out a study from the University of Illinois from the '90s:
Dr. Kuo and her colleagues compared women who were randomly assigned to various apartments. Some had a view of nothing but concrete sprawl, the blacktop of parking lots and basketball courts. Others looked out on grassy courtyards filled with trees and flower beds. Dr. Kuo then measured the two groups on a variety of tasks, from basic tests of attention to surveys that looked at how the women were handling major life challenges. She found that living in an apartment with a view of greenery led to significant improvements in every category.
The takeaway here is that we all need to get out into nature more. Whether that means a three-day camping trip or a brief walk around a park — the benefits of stronger focus, creativity and happiness are well worth the occasional bug bite.
Mom Was Right: Go Outside [Wall Street Journal]