This time of year can be stressful for many people, so why not swap out your four walls for the great outdoors?
Research shows that spending time in nature is good for your mental health and wellbeing.
As well as improving your mood and helping to reduce anxiety and depression, spending time in nature is also good for your physical health.
In Aotearoa New Zealand we are lucky to be surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty, making it easier to connect with the natural world.
Here are our top 10 tips to help you thrive with nature:
1. Exercise outside
Exercise outside as often as you can, even if it’s just for a short walk around the block during your lunch break. Go for longer walks, runs, bike rides or hikes during the weekend or in the evenings. Try doing exercise that you usually do inside, such as yoga or boot camp, outdoors to get a hit of nature (as well as endorphins).
2. Take up gardening
Gardening is a great way to get amongst nature and literally touch it with your hands. It’s also great exercise, plus you have the satisfaction of growing your own fruit and vegetables, or beautiful flowers and trees.
3. Get arty outdoors
Grab your camera, sketchpad and pencils or paint and head outdoors to capture the nature you see around you. You could take a day trip somewhere or simply go for a wander around your garden, neighbourhood or local park to capture something beautiful or interesting in nature that you see.
4. Jump in the deep end
Nothing beats going for a swim in the sea to feel connected to nature. It’s invigorating, fun and great exercise. Luckily in Aotearoa New Zealand, you aren’t usually too far from the sea, a lake or a river to enjoy a dip. Other activities such as surfing, stand up paddleboarding, boating and water skiing are also great ways to enjoy the ocean.
On a clear night, head outside and look up at the stars. Learn about the different constellations and keep an eye out for interesting astronomical events happening such as a lunar or solar eclipse.
6. Volunteer outdoors
See if there are any environmental or community gardening groups you could join. There are lots of groups that do regular beach clean-ups or planting sessions. It’s a great way to get outdoors, meet people and make a difference.
7. Bring nature inside
If you live in a big city where there isn’t much nature around, bring some nature inside. Whether it’s a vase of flowers, herbs in the kitchen or pot plants, having a bit of nature inside will bring you pleasure. Even a photo or painting of nature will help you feel connected to the outdoors.
8. Have a picnic
Grab the picnic basket and blanket and head outdoors for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There’s nothing nicer than eating outdoors in a beautiful location. The kids will love it, too!
9. Walk instead of driving
Do you really need to drive to wherever you’re going, especially if it’s close? Why not walk to the dairy, shops, school or work if they are nearby, instead of driving or catching public transport?
10. Kick your shoes off
Next time you’re out in nature, take things a step further and kick your shoes off so you are physically connecting with the earth or sand. Try lying on the ground or hugging a tree. Making an actual physical connection with nature adds another layer of connectedness.
If you’re concerned about your mood or are feeling depressed, please contact your GP or one of the following helplines:
- Phone or text 1737 24/7 to reach a trained counsellor
- Depression Helpline (0800 111 757)
- Lifeline (0800 543 354)
- Samaritans (0800 726 666)
- Youthline (0800 376 633)