How the Outdoors Influences Creativity

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Written by Siobhan Johansen, Content Manager

Here at Spawn Ideas, we are constantly inspired by the outdoors, whether here in Alaska or wherever we find ourselves around the globe. Being out in the fresh air and nature fuels our curiosity—and it does more than just help us clear our heads. It inspires us to look for new ways to help our clients connect with their audience. As marketers, we work in a creative field and, being in Alaska, we are in a beautiful natural environment. The question we want to explore here is “How does the outdoors influence creativity?”

What are the positive effects of nature on the brain?

There is a well-known connection between the outdoors and our health, both physical and mental. One study showed that walking in any green space for as little as 25 minutes is enough to give your brain a break and boost cognitive functioning. 

Something as simple as taking a walk through a nearby park or something more extreme like hitting the slopes can help you overcome creative blocks and attention fatigue. Attention fatigue is a unique problem that stems from how connected modern life is. While living in our constantly connected world has its perks, it can negatively impact our creativity and general wellness. With so much stimuli available at our fingertips, along with the pressure to always be doing, the simple act of stowing your phone and taking a walk outside could give you the fresh perspective or idea you’ve been looking for.

“If you’ve been using your brain to multitask—as most of us do most of the day—and then you set that aside and go on a walk, without all of the gadgets, you’ve let the prefrontal cortex recover,” says Strayer. “And that’s when we see these bursts in creativity, problem-solving, and feelings of well-being.”

There’s a reason why “take a walk to clear your head” is such a common answer to some of life’s struggles.

How does being in the outdoors spark the creative spirit?

The outdoors has been the playground for artists throughout history from Vincent Van Gogh, to John Muir, to Spawn’s own Amy Adams, director of digital and social engagement. From stunning vistas to breathtaking color palettes, nature has everything needed to inspire and spark creativity, and to help overcome a creative roadblock. Amy herself has said that nothing makes her feel more centered than after a hike up a mountain.

Being in nature offers a plethora of experiences, and sometimes an element of unpredictability. Seeing the interconnected system of trees, rivers, and animals can remind you that you are part of something bigger. Enjoying the freedom of those systems can also spark your mind. Our everyday lives can become so regimented and scheduled and bound in boxes, that a foray in the forest can be a liberating moment as there are none of those rules in nature. The moose don’t have a 3 p.m. meeting to get to. They don’t even know what 3 p.m. is. Oh, to be that free.

Experiencing all that the outdoors has to offer can provide freedom from our mundane constraints, which then lets our minds and creativity flourish.

What are brands doing?

Arc’teryx, an alpine clothing retailer, recently launched their first global campaign that “aims to show onlookers that ‘there’s always a better way’ to spend one’s life in the great outdoors by chronicling the journeys of 11 intrepid explorers in eight feature films.” The tagline is “No Wasted Days” and aims to promote wanderlust among its audience, thus driving sales of outdoor gear. This campaign sparks their audience’s imagination and has them asking themselves “What are the possibilities?”

The National Park Service’s social presence is a prime example of how nature sparks creativity. If you haven’t seen their social presence, you are missing out. Their posts mix educational and entertaining content flawlessly. It’s easy to see that they are constantly inspired by the nature around them. Their unique voice has paid off over the years as their posts regularly garner thousands of reactions and hundreds of comments. All with the bonus of teaching us more about the parks, the animals, and the great outdoors as a whole.

What does it all mean? 

A recent favorite quote of mine is from Anna Sitar, a content creator who has built her brand around positivity. She sums up this post’s bottom line, saying: “Your best ideas are not going to come from scrolling on the internet.” So, while inspiration can definitely be found while scrolling TikTok or looking through your Instagram feed, open your eyes and heart to what’s all around. Because it is far more likely that your best ideas will come from the experiences you have while immersing yourself in the outdoors. Try it next time you’re in a creative rut.

Does this sound like you? Let our team help. Reach out to us, and we can chat!

At Spawn Ideas, we fuel the curious and wild in people by genuinely getting to know them. So, if your brand helps customers embrace adventure, travel and wellbeing, we’ll turn your reason to be into a reason to buy. Our staff works hard to live well in places like Denver, Colorado, and Anchorage, Alaska.

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