ART

Spending a long period of time on a task that requires intense focus and concentration can be mentally exhausting for the human brain. Attention Restoration Theory (ART) suggests the ability to concentrate may be restored by exposure to natural environments. The possibility of giving ourselves a little rest and mental recharge is key to improving our concentration on a daily basis.

Many times when I feel exhausted I take a short walk. This short break helps me to clear my mind and reload myself to continue with my tasks. But does it matter where this walk takes place?

In a psychological experiment conducted in 2008, two groups of people were encouraged to perform a memory/attention problem. They take a walk before the problem, the first group around a small park; the second group around an office located in a city center. After this break, the memory problem was performed and… surprise! A 20% improvement was discovered in the results obtained by the number one group, the one that took the walk in nature.

This experiment is one of many that validate ART (Attention Restoration Theory). This theory, first proposed in the 80s, is based on the concepts of direct attention and attention fatigue. Human beings are constantly seeking and evaluating information. In order to concentrate we need direct attention and that resource, unfortunately, is finite. The researchers revealed that walking through a large city requires large doses of this type of attention (crossing a street, advertising…). Weakening of directed attention leads to increased distraction and dreaded mental fatigue.

On the other hand, taking a walk in a place surrounded by nature contains calming stimuli that do not require any direct focus, but rather effortless reflection, allowing the attention system to recover from exhaustion.

Blackboard

It is therefore no coincidence that we feel the batteries are recharged after an outdoors weekend. I do it whenever I can, and you?

References
  1. Attention Restoration Theory: A Systematic Review of the Attention Restoration Potential of Exposure to Natural Environments
  2. Deep Work, Cal Newport
  3. The experience of nature: A psychological perspective, Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S.

Puedes leer este post en español aquí.

Thanks for reading!