Take a Hike to Boost Your Creativity
The stereotype of the tortured worker who needs to "go for a walk" to get through his writer's block or come up with a new idea may be more than a stereotype. At least one new study suggests that hiking—specifically a good long walk outdoors—can do wonders for your creativity and boost your overall happiness with your work and your personal life.
We've mentioned before that getting outdoors can improve your productivity, and a 2008 study in the journal Psychological Science that supported it. Now a brand new study from researchers at the University of Kansas and University of Utah suggests that same contact with nature and the outdoors can boost creativity as well. The study was small, only about 56 individuals, all of whom were fit and averaging 28 years old, but the results were interesting: hikers who took a word association and skill test after a day or two of hiking did much better than hikers who took the test before they left.
Researchers think that both the exposure to nature and the outdoors (as well as the walking) helped, but they also noted that all of the participants were asked to leave their smartphones, laptops, and tablets behind. Granted, you can't do that, and you can't disappear for a two day hike every time you're feeling short on ideas, but researchers do suggest that getting outdoors and walking can help us concentrate—that there's something about natural environments that helps us focus. So the next time you're struggling at work, maybe go for a walk around the building, or take an afternoon and visit a local park. It might help.
Photo by Gunnar Hildonen.