Now day dreamers are the defenders of creativity and innovation

Year on year, online and general media consumption, is increasing.  Americans spend an average of 10.5 hours a day consuming media (Nielsen, 2016) and, for Brits, media consumption is just under 10 hours a day on average (Emarketer, 2016).

Is digital media eating into our creativity and innovation? 

Constantly being bombarded with digital stimuli affects the brain, but the long-term and nuanced effects on cognitive functioning, psychological well-being and children’s development are widely debated..

increases in media consumption

Research by Baird, Smallwood and Mrazek et al. (2012), suggests that letting your mind wander promotes better problem solving.  They posit that daydreaming promotes people’s creativity.  The question then is, as media consumption increases, what will be the effect on the collective creativity in years to come?

Professor Daniel Willingham explains (cited in Metz, 2017), that years of research has ascertained that we have 2 attention systems: an internal and an external one.  When we daydream the internal one is activated:  this is known as the ‘default network.’  This network is particularly active when we are thinking about ourselves, the past or the future.  Only one attentional system can be active at a time.  A large part of our day is involved in the use of our external network i.e. focusing on external stimuli.  This ‘begs the question: what is that doing to our brains — and our ability to come up with creative ideas?’

media 2017

Amy Fries, writer and editor for Psychology Today suggest that ‘accepting your own daydreaming state of mind is almost revolutionary’ (cited in Mertz, 2017).  It’s strange that as we have gained access to a wealth of information at our fingertips, allowing us to take advantage of different ideas perspectives and learn new hobbies that our collective creativity might suffer in future years.

For me, regulating the amount of personal online usage combined with quiet reflection and getting back to nature is perhaps an ideal solution that should boost creativity and promote a whole host of benefits for psychological well-being.

As Frederick Law Olmsted said:

 “[natural scenery] employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it; tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it; and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system (cited in Bratman et al., 2012).”


A growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to the natural environment can have a positive effect on memory, attention, concentration, impulse inhibition, and mood (Hartig et al., 1991; Kaplan, 1995; Pretty et al., 2005; Thompson Coon et al., 2010, cited in Ashbullby et al. 2012, Bratman et al. 2012).  Yet, Evan’s (1998) cited in Bratman et al. (2012) suggests that Americans spend 90% of their time inside buildings.  Two explanatory theories of environmental psychology lay claim to the power of nature.  Stress reduction theory (SRT), posits the healing power of nature which lies in an autonomic response to natural elements that may occur without recognition.  In SRT simply being present within nature can reduce stress through automatic physiological and psychological responses.  Attention restoration theory (ART), centers on the power of green environments to replenish certain types of attention through unconscious, cognitive processes in response to natural landscapes.  ART claims that interaction with natural environments employs involuntary attention which allows the neural mechanisms underlying directed attention (used in media consumption) a chance to rest and replenish.  However, isolating the factors which contribute to the positive physiological and psychological effects has been more problematic.  Is it simply that when people are removed from the everyday stresses and strain of life that they begin to relax; is it the natural aesthetics or the likelihood of tranquillity in rural environments that brings about change?

Lake at Le Manoir de Gurson

Rural tourism is thriving in our area.  Some people come specifically for walking, fishing, wildlife, and cycling holidays, whilst others come to relax and enjoy the slower pace of life alongside experiencing the cultural fayre.  Many of our clients have told me that they seem to settle in and unwind more quickly here than in other holiday destinations, perhaps our green land contributes to this.

Rural tourism is thriving in our area.  Some people come specifically for walking, fishing, wildlife, and cycling holidays, whilst others come to relax and enjoy the slower pace of life alongside experiencing the cultural fayre.  Many of our clients have told me that they seem to settle in and unwind more quickly here than in other holiday destinations, perhaps our green land contributes to this.

What can you do to maximise your creativity and promote well-being?

  • Monitor your online and media usage
  • Give yourself time to reflect and allow your mind to wander
  • Get outside, interact with and experience nature
  • Take a walk and get active wherever you are.

What are your thoughts on daydreaming and green environments maximising creativity and innovation in this digital age?

Please comment, like or follow!




Ashbullby,K., White,M., Pah, S., Depledge, M. (2012) ‘The psychological benefits of visiting natural environments: Differential effects of coast,’ European Centre For Environment & Human Health [Online]. Available at

Emarketer (2016) ‘Smartphones Drive Increased Time Spent with Digital Media for UK Adults,’[Online]. Available at

Metz, E (2017) ‘Why idle moments are crucial to creativity,’ BBC, [Online]. Available at

Nielsen (2016)‘The total audience report: 2016,’Nielsen, [Online]. Available at


4 thoughts on “Now day dreamers are the defenders of creativity and innovation

  1. Howdy Dordogne!

    Nature certainly promotes introspection, and daydreaming certainly promotes creativity, but, you know what else does, too? Collaboration and interaction! Human beings work the best when we work together! What promotes communication and collaboration like nothing before it? Social media!

    Every time a new communications technology has been invented, people have lamented the impact it will make on our ability to connect and work together — I’m not saying you’re lamenting the harmful impact that social media will have on creativity — and it hasn’t born out. We adapt to our circumstances and creativity is part of our psyche.

    I suspect the real culprit in natural settings is the combination of the preponderance of negative ions and the solitude and quiet. You’ve got time to think free of distractions and the negative ions to fuel it.

    I enjoyed the article! Some good thoughts to ponder… even day dream about!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi CalicoJack,

      Historically people have always feared the effects of new technologies. I’m usually quite dubious about sensational headlines.

      Collaboration and social interaction gave humanity huge evolutionary benefits. I can definitely relate to fact that social media has engaged us and given us new ways to interact, inspire and work together.

      However, I can see how periods of digital detox might benefit us in more ways that we realise.
      However, if people withdrew from media usage completely, it would probably have a detrimental effect on creativity and innovation. I guess its about getting the balance right.

      Thanks for your consideration of the topic and the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! The picture of an inner and outer attention system is very apt. That we have the external one activated most of the time may contribute to the return to mindfulness practices. And I agree that nature and art may be substantial means to that end. To think is to activate the internal attention system (including intuition, etc.). Digital media and the Internet are a good thing, but I also experience that we need to use it wisely, in a balanced way. I think people (and myself for a large part of my life) do react rather than act, do consume from the outside, rather than create from the inside, and just don’t think “hard/deeply” enough. Thanks to your post I would define now “thinking hard” as activating the inner attention system:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Mathias. I like your term ‘thinking hard’ too. Balance is what I am aiming for. it can be difficult at time to be aware of online usage and take time out. Hopefully, in the end, it will be worthwhile and benefit people in the long-term.

      Liked by 1 person

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