According to a study cited by Fast Company, urban living makes you stupid. But spending a little time in nature can give your brain a boost.
Natural settings, it seems, apply less of a load on our cognitive processes, compared to the flurry of inputs and choices an urban environment – with all its people, traffic, technology and artificial shapes and sounds – makes. Somehow this has knock-on effects deep in our brains. Of course this study simply exposes the results, and an understanding of the mental mechanisms that drive this behavior is much more complex. But it’s clear that our brains developed as we evolved in a natural environment.
And at least the study found that the beneficial effects of a natural environment counteract the negative effects of an urban one–to sharpen up your brain, you simply need to go outside and find a park to stroll in.
I think this has some importance for writers, designers, and others who spend a lot of time sitting inside staring at a computer screen for hours at a time. You gotta give yourself a break now and then or your brain locks up.
Some people can just crank it out all day long. But I start to get fuzzy after two or three hours. So I look for excuses to change the scenery.
If it’s spring or summer, I’ll take a walk around my property and futz with my roses, kick mulch back into the landscaping beds, or prune a bush or two. If it’s fall or winter, I might rake leaves, shovel a little snow, or clean out a gutter. Fun, huh? Well, it’s more fun and refreshing than staring at my computer in a fog.
At the end of the day, regardless of weather, I walk or bike around my home town (which has done a good job of maintaining plenty of green space). This is a little tricky in the winter, but even now with six inches of snow, I get out and about. I’ve always known that time outside recharges my batters pretty fast. Five minutes can give me creative juice for a few more hours.
Writing is largely about managing your brain. The cure for fatigue or writer’s block is right outside your window.