5 Ways Nature Walks Can Boost Productivity and Creativity
I’m constantly looking for new ways to boost my motivation and creativity levels. Many of you may suffer from devastating spells of low-productivity from time to time, especially if you work from home like I do. Sometimes it might seem as if you’re losing interest in your craft, but actually, those who absolutely love what they do can work so hard that they become too stressed to keep up the momentum, and that leads to lack of motivation.
Let’s discuss 5 ways that nature walks can improve your motivation, creativity, and short-term memory, as well as reduce stress and even cure unwanted bouts of impostor syndrome.
Nature Decreases Stress
Nature walks can reduce stress and improve your health in many ways. Perhaps the most obvious is the type of stress brought on by eye strain or sitting uncomfortably for too long; mental stress eventually evolves into physical stress as well.
Both walking and nature can help to reduce stress, so combining the two is a no-brainer. A simple 15-minute stroll can make a huge difference. If you have the time to feed squirrels and ducks in your local nature space — even better. Every now and then, take a half/full day to submerse yourself in nature by completing a full hike; by doing this, the stress-reduction/creativity-boosting effects of nature walks will last for days.
Nature Boosts Creativity
Besides reducing stress, walking around in nature also boosts creativity as a result of looking at an abundance of green colors — seriously. If you’re totally swamped at work (or even if you’re not), you can bring nature to you by adding small plants to your desk to raise your creativity by up to 70%.
Nature Relieves Attention Fatigue
Attention fatigue is when your brain is overloaded with too much information, which is why checking your Facebook, Twitter, Dribbble, Instagram, emails (and so on) too frequently is a terrible idea; you’re tiring out your brain far too quickly. We’ve discussed digital detox here, if you’re interested in learning about a method to disconnect.
That being said, even the most constrained designers can suffer from fatigue by simply having too many tasks fighting for your attention at once. Going for a walk in nature fixes that because fatigue is only temporary — instead of trying to focus on those tasks (unsuccessfully), focus on none of them for a while.
After your walk, when your energy levels and mental clarity has improved, you’ll be able concentrate better and tackle those tasks without frustration and in a more productive state of mind.
Nature Walks Boost Your Short-Term Memory
Have you ever forgotten what you were doing in a split-second during a highly-energetic session of window switching? Attention fatigue (or all kinds of stress, actually) can affect your short-term memory. By taking calming walks in the wonderful outdoors you can reduce the frequency of those mind-blanking moments spent wondering what the heck you were about to do.
When your mind draws a blank it can disrupt your workflow completely while you struggle to remember what it is that you wanted to do — it’s a real productivity killer.
Nature Reduces Anxiety (and Impostor Syndrome)
Anxiety is one of the most crippling forms of stress. It can lead to OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or Impostor Syndrome, an awful affliction where the sufferer fails to acknowledge his own accomplishments despite evidence of their brilliant work, citing their success to luck, convinced that they’ll be outed as a fraud or an “impostor”. Studies have shown that those who take nature walks don’t suffer as much from anxiety or rumination.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder tends to affect designers on a more severe scale because we’re already so obsessed with the idea of perfection. You can waste so many precious hours tweaking a design that was most likely already amazing to begin with, but your anxiety will never let you believe that. Nature walks can free you from this trap and allow you to think more rationally.
Productivity, motivation, creativity, short-term memory, focus, attention, stress, anxiety, exhaustion — all of these things can be manipulated in many different ways. Nature walks, however, can change all of them for the better in as little as 15 minutes, a routine that’s quite often chosen over meditation or sleep because of its creativity boosting and idea-forming effects.
Do you embrace the green spaces enough? Do you walk with a buddy, or listen to music? Share your experiences in the comments below.
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