Disclaimer: This post may contain pseudoscience.
The image above shows how I imagine my brain functioning in a normal situation, for example when planning out my day, with some major simplifications to the process. The second image is how it feels when my brain has been on the internet for a while. I might set out with a clear set of tasks to achieve, answering and sending emails, researching how to repoint the steps up to the house, checking the news – but it doesn’t take long to reach a state of overstimulation. Internet frenzy.
It’s as if my brain gets excited to the point of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of reading and learning possibilities presented to it. Each one a rabbit to be chased down a hole, thrilling but distracting. Before I know it I’ll end up with so many tabs I can’t even tell what each one is, many totally unconnected, some saved for later and others immediately consumed. Incredibly inefficient, and I wonder if potentially damaging as the brain learns this “pattern” of behaviour. Sure chaos can be fun, but there’s enough of it in the world without it extending to how my mind functions.
The contrast when I’m out cycling, then, is something of a blessing. The wide open spaces, and base line distraction of keeping the pedals turning, give my brain room to breathe. Free of distractions, and free to explore unhindered realms of possibility. It’s the closest I get to pure inspiration. Ideas and phrases seem to spring from nowhere. This was so often my get out of jail free card when I was studying and stuck on a particular assignment. Ditching the books and the library and riding out into the Peak District, seemingly allowing the brain to settle and calm before searching for answers. I’m not trying to sound like some kind of “new age” shaman for the mind, just demonstrating the contrast I have seen.
I have no idea how well this stands up on a neurological scale, I’m simply trying to portray how it works for me. Certainly regular exercise can do wonders for your mental health as well as physical, so perhaps it is little wonder that it has this effect on my thinking. Believe me; I wouldn’t be coming up with posts just staring at a screen all day. Get outside!