No, not that kind of art. I mean Attention Restoration Theory.

Attention Restoration Theory is a concept developed by Stephen Kaplan that argues you can renew cognitive resources through interaction with natural, restorative environments.

Have you ever noticed that you feel mentally exhausted after an incredibly productive creative practice?

That’s because directed attention — or focused practice — is a type of high-level executive functioning that requires more brain power than other types of cognition.

The directed attention used in your creative practice conditions your body to expect high-level executive functioning when you enter your physical creative space. You begin to associate the physical environment with mentally draining activities and sometimes you need to physically give yourself a break from that location in order to replenish your cognitive resources.

In contrast, other situations or places make fewer demands on your mental stores. These soothing places lead to feeling rejuvenated and energized. The location does not have to be anything specific; it just needs to be associated with feelings of getting away from your routine or work.

The ART model suggests these soothing places share four essential qualities that result in a feeling of restoration.

✨ Fascination: They are interesting

🏝 Being Away: They are set apart from their surroundings

🧘 Extent: They are free of distractions

💫 Compatibility: They are compatible with your purpose and intent

Natural environments, in particular, are deeply restorative. People who spend time in nature are better able to concentrate, control their thinking, tolerate frustration, and generally perform more successfully on a wide variety of mental acuity tests.

Do you already have a restorative place? If not, what would your restorative place look like?

Here’s a downloadable guide to help you find your own restorative place.