Nature is Key – Unlock Your Wellbeing is the title of a blog-post I read yesterday morning from the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC).
The catchy title led into a good post that informed me this is Mental Health Awareness Week… and the title is actually the theme for this week.
I’m going to cherry-pick some interesting points from their post and add in some photos that Nigel and I have taken recently at Dunedin Botanic Garden.
“It is important to remember that it is not just the open landscapes where we can find ways to increase our wellbeing in nature – local parks in the middle of your town or city, daisies in the berm, the tree outside your office window, the sky, the hills in the distance … urban environments are full of opportunity if we step outside the office door.”
“Unfortunately, a large (and growing) number of New Zealanders have lost contact and connection with nature, leading to a decline in wellbeing. Reconnecting people with nature will not only help the individual, but it will also have a positive impact on conservation – people who are connected to and value the natural world are more likely to notice if we are losing it and care enough to try and save it.”
“Connectng with nature … can help people to recover mental illnesses – for example, it can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. In Canada, a study of adults with serious mental illness found that those who went for walks in nature reported significantly higher happiness and energy levels, as well as decreased anxiety”
The post provided a link to a combined DOC and Mental Health Foundation initiative called Healthy Nature, Healthy People.
This initiative “aims to encourage us to use New Zealand’s natural spaces to maintain and improve our health and wellbeing. These spaces include land and water from our urban parks and beaches to our national parks, seas, lakes and wild rivers.”
Healthy Nature Healthy People is based on the successful Healthy Parks Healthy People programme created by Parks Victoria in Australia in 2000. Many countries have since adopted similar programmes and DOC is leading Healthy Nature Healthy People in New Zealand.
The movement seeks to reinforce and encourage the connections between a healthy environment and a healthy society. The principles are:
- the wellbeing of all societies depends on healthy ecosystems
- parks nurture healthy ecosystems
- contact with nature is essential for improving emotional, physical and spiritual health and wellbeing, and
- parks are fundamental to economic growth and to vibrant and healthy communities.
Dunedin Botanic Garden is a fantastic asset for people who live in and near Dunedin!
To read more about appreciating the beauty to be found in nature, Pete Hillman (from Staffordshire, UK) has recently written a wonderful guest post for my blog titled: The Beauty Beyond