Nature walks for wellbeing

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Are you dreaming of the next adventure? I hope that you are not sitting in an office reading this. However, if you are don’t worry. Most of us sit in an office at some stage of the week. Some more than others.

I know for myself and many of my work colleagues, turning up on Monday morning after a great weekend of activity can be very difficult for the mental state.

 And if the workload is particularly large, it can be hard to pull yourself up and into a mission for the next weekend. But it’s worth it; get motivated to get out there, as time in nature will help refresh your mental state.

We don’t all work 9am-5pm anymore either, it seems we work around the clock sometimes. There is no break and the stress can all be too much. This makes it important to do some planning – for a break for yourself. Maybe take the kids, your dog or partner, or just keep the time off to yourself.

We all relax and unwind differently, but wherever you live, I bet within half an hour’s drive there is a park, a beach, a forest, a lake or some type of outdoor environment. There will be a bit of nature out there for you. You just have to plan the time to go and relax in it. As many studies have confirmed, nature is important in our lives, it helps us connect, relax, and refresh.

Start by doing the Google Earth thing. Look at satellite maps and look for the green stuff. It is amazing the hidden gems you may find. Parks and walks you did not know existed.

Failing that, have a look on the Department of Conservation website (doc.govt.nz). Look up an area you have not yet been, or somewhere you remember going to. The list of short walks out there is huge. If your fitness is down, start with a small physical challenge.

If you are an ultra-athlete, find something that might relax your mind rather than push the body. It is all there for us. We just have to go for a look and make the time.   

Once you have found a nature walk that suits your time off, plan what you might need. A daypack, some comfortable shoes, a drink bottle and some lunch. Maybe a camera, an extra warm layer? Have a look at the weather; the Met Service website (metservice.co.nz) is good for local reports. This might help you decide what to take in your daypack.

If it looks like it is going to rain, get into it. Put some dry clothes in the car for when you get back. Put a thermos in your bag; maybe take a wide brim hat. Help that rain stay out of your eyes as you are going to need those for enjoying the views.

It is about being out in nature. It’s something that we all need. The sight of a waterfall or a wave crashing on the beach shows us the beauty of the natural world around us. The birds flitting in the sky, the shade on a hot day offered by a big tree can be so nice.

Find the little things that make up the natural world around you. Enjoy them, watch them, and feel them with your hands or feet. You cannot beat a barefoot stroll down a sandy beach.

Have a look at the Leave No Trace NZ website (leavenotrace.org.nz). This is a collaboration with the Department of Conservation to help promote conservation for our environment. Remember it is your environment, so please look after it. Have a think about the natural state of the area you have chosen to go for a walk in. What does it look like? What should it look like?

Find the time to get out and about. Do it for yourself, take the time to relax in nature. It’s pretty amazing how full of energy you can be after a slog up a hill to an epic view.

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