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Nature Connection and Innovation by Christina Gillett

Join us: Nature connection and innovation workshop, Saturday 16th March 2-5pm

I am joining up with accredited forest therapy practitioner, Lucinda from Mothertree Wellbeing, to host an in-person workshop in celebration of the United Nations International Day of Forests, and inspired by the day’s theme this year: ‘‘Forests and Innovation’.

The afternoon will be relaxing, refreshing and takes place in the beautiful Westbury Wildlife Park Foundation in Bristol. For more information and to book, click here. Please be aware that spaces are limited to keep the group small and cosy. If you like the sound of this event, sign up to receive information about any future events – especially if you are unable to make it this time.

Whether or not you will be able to join us, getting out in nature is almost guaranteed to help you feel good. And with the theme, ‘Forests and Innovation’, as our inspiration, we are particularly interested in how being in nature can help us to connect with creativity and fresh new perspectives.

Working alongside nature, the workshop will include activities to create a relaxing, refreshing and inspirational experience, such as:

  • Nature connection
  • Gentle walking / movement
  • Opportunities for reflection
  • Creative art (absolutely no artistic talent or experience required!)

We would love you to join us to relax and de-stress, take some time and space, and perhaps return home with a fresh perspective or ready to take a more creative approach to your goals or challenges – whether in parenting, career, health or lifestyle – or simply feeling a little lighter.

In this blog post, I’ll share a few things from research about the relationship between nature and creativity or innovation, that are inspiring me as I prepare for this workshop, and which may also inspire you:

  • De-stress

Just being in nature – or even looking at it – has been shown in many, many studies to reduce activity of the ‘fight or flight’ system and increase activity of the ‘flow and grow’ or ‘rest and digest’ system. Within minutes of being in nature, heart rate and blood pressure reduce, and after about 20-30 minutes cortisol lowers too. 

This is important for creativity because when we are in a stressed state we tend to have a narrower focus, and be more alert to threats or problems, which doesn’t tend to go well with ‘outside of the box’ thinking, new connections and exploration. Feeling safe, we can explore and get curious, take risks and be ok with making mistakes – which can all help with creativity and innovation. Feeling 

  • Movement

Being in nature lends itself to moving, walking and exploring, and research suggests that this is helps creativity. Studies have found an association between increased creative thinking and different types of movement and walking, particularly with movement that is flexible, fluid, unguided or improvised.

  • Inspiration
    • Nature is full of different shapes, colours and beauty, which can inspire our own creative and artistic energy.
    • Nature lends itself towards symbolism that can inspire new perspectives and understanding, for example, feeling strong and rooted like an oak, accepting the natural phases of your life like the cycling of seasons, new buds of hope etc.
  • Attention and concentration

Modern life, with constant demands on our attention, can lead to mental fatigue. To recover from this, we need periods of effortless attention. Nature is a perfect source of this, with sights and sounds of birdsong, waves, trees and leaves. Whereas the interpretation and classification of artificial stimuli requires ‘controlled’ and effortful attention, our visual system evolved with natural stimuli, so we can detect and interpret it effortlessly and almost automatically. This means that the ‘soft fascination’ of nature doesn’t completely occupy the mind, leaving ‘headspace’ for emergence of unrelated thoughts and reflections, making creativity and innovation more available to us.

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  • Collaboration

There is a growing body of evidence showing that when we spend time in nature:

  • We are more prosocial and feel more connected to others.
  • We show more trust, empathy, and generosity.
  • We care for, help, and assist others more.

Collaborating with others is a great way to increase creativity and innovation as new ideas and opportunities emerge. 

Every human is creative.

We can get stuck and fixed in the same way of looking at things. To find new ideas and solutions, you need to tap into your creativity. Luckily, NHS Psychiatrist Dr Jonathan Iliff, says that every human is creative, and that from a neuroscience perspective, creativity is with us almost every moment of every day: each time we connect ideas, new combinations of neurons fire.

What do you find inspiring about being in nature?

We would love to welcome you to our nature connection and innovation workshop so please make sure you sign up here, or sign up to be the first to hear about future online and in-person workshops.

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