Let Your Imagination Run Wild

By David Blyweiss, M.D.

July 11, 2014

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Some days, do you feel like you’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere fast?

You aren’t the only one. It’s something of an epidemic.

Today, we just have too many distractions in our lives. Everyone is in a rush to get somewhere or do something.

This flurry of activity, hustle and bustle, clutters up the brain. It doesn’t give your mind time to “clear out the trash.” Mental fatigue sets in. And that makes it easy to lose your imagination and creativity.

Do you know what happens then? You start doing things by rote. And without any creative spark, you eventually realize you’re not accomplishing much at all.

One of my patients described the feeling perfectly. Here’s what she said…

“I don’t know what happened. These days I can’t seem to think beyond what’s going to happen in the next five minutes. Absolutely nothing in my life is moving forward. But back when I was younger… Wow! I was constantly churning out new ideas that made life exciting. There was always something to look forward to or accomplish.”

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Sound familiar?

Many of my patients are going through the same thing. They’re lost and need to be found. Some might say that’s easier said than done.

Well, I have a simple surprise for you today…

If you give yourself the chance, rediscovering that inner spark might be easier than you could ever imagine.

Do you remember being kid? Back then we were always outside riding bicycles, building forts and romping in the backyard. Our imaginations ran wild. We could be anything and do anything.

All of that outdoor activity may have been key to the zest and creativity in our young minds.

I’m lucky. I’ve never lost my enthusiasm for life. The creative ideas keep flowing. Every single day is filled with exciting possibilities, new discoveries and great promise.

I’ll let you in on my little secret. It can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your mental health and creative imagination. And it’s something I take advantage of every single day.

What is it?

Head outdoors and rediscover the nature that surrounds you. Take a walk in the park. If you have the chance, enjoy a hike in the woods. Head to the lake or beach and stroll in the sand while listening to the waves lapping the shore.

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You might even want to try walking barefoot once in a while, as long as you avoid areas with pesticides. It really helps you feel the connection to the Earth’s natural healing energy. (Check out www.earthing.com.)

But it’s not just the connection with nature that helps reinvigorate your brainpower. There are several other reasons taking a walk outdoors boosts your creativity.

You probably aren’t surprised that reconnecting with nature gives your mind the tie it needs for quiet contemplation.

Natural surroundings are calming. They take you away from the busy streets, sirens, horns and screeching brakes that invade our daily lives. This reduces brain-strain and invigorates your creative juices.

Is that all it does?

Not by a long shot. I think there’s a lot more a stroll in the park can do for you.

For example, did you know that highly creative people have greater blood flow to their brain than the average person? I’m talking about artists and scientists who are recognized in their fields.

Well, guess what? Taking a brisk walk outdoors for 30 to 50 minutes three or four times a week improves blood flow to the brain as much as 15%. This could be one reason taking a nature walk boosts creativity.

It also gives you plenty of down-time to decompress from your own life.

If you’re anything like my patients, you’re checking texts, emails, investments and other online activity every minute or two. You have phones ringing, radios blaring and televisions blasting. All of these things only serve to hijack your attention.

Other demands add to it.

Even when life is good, there are deadlines, arguments, flat tires and other distractions that clog up your thought process. Your brain can only handle so much of this commotion before it loses focus. They build up and lead to mental fatigue, stress and exhaustion.

Getting outdoors breaks you away from all of these diversions. It allows your mind to wander, imagine and regenerate from the aggravation of everyday life.

I know you’re busy. That’s part of the problem. It’s hard to make time to recuperate.

But it only takes 15 to 30 minutes a day. And it could make your life so much better.

Take a walk in the local park. Stroll on the shores of a nearby lake, river or creek. Enjoy the clouds, the trees, the sunset and birds as you’re doing it.

I guarantee you this. By the time you head back indoors, your mood will be better, you’ll have lower anxiety levels… and you’ll rediscover the natural creative spark that will propel you forward to a happier and healthier future.

Atchley RA, et al. “Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings.” PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51474

Aspinall P, et al. “The urban brain: analysing outdoor physical activity with mobile EEG.” Br J Sports Med. 2013 Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Chávez-Eakle RA, et al. “Cerebral blood flow associated with creative performance: a comparative study.” Neuroimage. 2007 Nov 15;38(3):519-28. Epub 2007 Aug 17.

American Physiological Society. “Moderate exercise dramatically improves brain blood flow in elderly women.” ScienceDaily. Apr 2011