Getting out in nature and creative thinking. Ideas really do grow on trees!

Getting out in nature and creative thinking. Ideas really do grow on trees!

“It is the marriage of the soul with nature that makes the intellect fruitful, and gives birth to imagination.” Henry David Thoreau

If you’ve ever felt mentally burnt out and unable to focus on the (creative) task at hand then you’re not alone. Whenever I’m stuck on a problem I get outside, blow the mental cobwebs away and always come back with a fresh perspective on my problem.

Now various research projects are adding scientific evidence to back up what many of us know intuitively – how spending time in nature improves not just our physical health but our mental health and creativity to boot. One experiment with a group of hikers in the US found a 50% increase in creative performance after a 4-6 day immersion in nature.

“Getting out in the green stuff really activates the grey stuff.”  Tom Dixon, MD of Canopy & Stars

This is why I was so pleased to be asked to get involved in their new initiative called NatureWorks: Creativity Breaks that gives companies and creative types the breathing space and opportunity to tackle their creative challenges in a natural environment, while staying in everything from a treehouse to a yurt (as I did, staying in Coracle the Yurt at the wonderful Crafty Camping in Dorset). You can read all about my experience and those of award-winning animation company Aardman or hot new Bristol-based communications agency Wonderland here.)

creativity and nature

Canopy & Stars asked me to put together some tips as to how to increase creativity and productivity whilst taking your own retreat in nature. Based on my own experience, and the research around the topic of nature and creative thinking , these fall into three areas that reflect our natural creative thinking processes and their respective brain wave states that impact our ideas:



1. Contemplation – time to consider your challenge in a relaxed yet alert state

2. Relaxation – time out to daydream, dawdle, walk, lie in a hammock and let your unconscious mind take over

3. Inspiration – aha! The idea sneaks up on you fuelled by what you’ve seen, heard and experienced on your break


Who knows your next award-winning campaign or breakthrough business idea could be inspired by one of the 90 places Canopy & Stars has on offer to escape to. I loved my experience in Coracle the yurt and came away refreshed and relaxed and full of ideas to help promote my new book In Your Creative Element. I was certainly in mine.

To celebrate the benefits of nature and creative thinking and Social Media Week in Bristol, @canopyandstars is offering a two-night creativity break at Penhein Glamping in Monmouthshire. Just share your favourite creativity break with #creativitybreak #SMWiB and @canopyandstars for a chance to win

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