I ran across Matthew E. May's June 30, 2016 article "The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Productivity Over A Long Weekend Is Also The Most Fun." The "long weekend" in question was the 4th of July holiday, and he wrote it 5 years--long before pandemics and quarantines. Yet, "the meat" of the article still holds so very true. While "Red, White, & BBQ" sound like a great plan for the Fourth, his points in his article make a solid call for nature outings, unplugging, and firefly fireworks as being an even better plan!
He detailed studies from the University of Kansas and University of Utah that investigated the effect of stepping into nature and stepping away from our digital devices and their impact on creativity. I know I was pretty tech-centric 5 years ago (and often wrote about my love-hate relationship with technology--despite the fact that my job is very tech-connected)... but it doesn't hold a candle to the tech life I've lived this past year with zoom calls, hybrid & remote teaching, and the necessity of having to use texts, Facebook, and video calls with loved ones who live far away. If there was a researched and studied benefit 5 years ago, you can bet it's still needed and probably in the category of mandatory versus just plain necessary.
The findings in this study showed that a 4 days in nature (hiking, in this study) showed a 50% improvement in creativity. Futher findings showed that insight and problem solving were also improved due to stepping away from the constant demands that our pinging smartphones and digital data overtax our busy brains. This is particularly true for our the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for processing and organizing information, short term memory, attention, decision making, and impulse control. We get tired and stressed and digitally overstimulated, these sometimes are the first things to be affected and go on the fritz!
Whether it was a result of the increased time in nature, the decreased time with tech, or the combination of the two was not delineated. However, it does seem like a stellar combination to pursue given the outcome. Do we need days on end of this unplugged, nature-centric regimen? Probably not. But some time out in nature, soaking in some green or some blue, might be the best way for you to really reset this red, white, & blue holiday to help you not only rejuvenate but to also up your game at work or at home.
Images created at canvas.com
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