Creative block? Spend time outdoors say scientists
Any hopes for a modern-day Beethoven, Monet or Byron may well and truly be quashed now that ‘Angry Birds’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ exist.
Scientists have warned that we’re all draining our creative juices away by spending hours glued to computers, mobiles and television screens.
It seems our ability to sit patiently for hours creating timeless masterpieces is quietly being replaced by a strange urge to sit and watch cat videos, play virtual Scrabble and look through our ex’s new partner’s holiday pictures from 2007.
According to U.S. researchers, the average teenager spends more than 7.5 hours a day staring at a screen.
It’s not just teens, either – we’re all guilty of it. While once we may have spent a train journey gazing out of the window enjoying the view, or exploring ideas and scenarios in our minds, now we spend it glued to our smartphones and tablets, finishing off assignments or browsing aimlessly on Facebook.
We are, in a sense, letting our minds become lazy slobs.
In one recent experiment by the University of Utah, backpackers were sent to spend four days in the wilderness without any technology. Before they left, the 56 backpackers were asked to take a ‘creativity test’. On average, each backpacker scored four out of ten questions right.
At the end of the four day hike, they were all tested again. This time they scored an average of six out of ten on the creativity test – a significant 50% improvement.
The participants had an average age of 28 and took part in treks organised by the Outward Bound organisation in Colorado, Washington State, Alaska and Maine.
Previous studies show that a long walk can also make it easier to repeat long lists of numbers backwards, improve the accuracy of proof reading and also make it easier to perceive optical illusions.
Psychologists at the University of Utah said: “Our modern society is filled with sudden events (sirens, horns, ringing phones, alarms, television) that hijack attention. By contrast natural environments are associated with gentle soft fascination, allowing the executive attentional system to replenish.”
These results show that sitting in front of a computer for hours everyday may be preventing us from exercising our brains sufficiently.
It may pay to spend a few hours everyday away from our beloved electronic devices. That means switching off your computer, putting your phone in a draw, strapping on some trainers and heading out of the house.
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