En­joy na­ture for good men­tal health

South Waikato News - - Backyard Banter -

of the Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion, imag­ines how Mother Na­ture would urge us all to get out­side and en­joy life.

Hi, Mother Na­ture here – I think I owe you an apology.

I didn’t mean to catch you out in the rain when you were waiting for your bus. Also, sorry for the bird poo on your new top. Those mozzie bites may have been me too. I’ve been try­ing to get your at­ten­tion be­cause I’ve been feel­ing ne­glected. Chil­dren to­day spend less time with me than any gen­er­a­tion in hu­man his­tory and most kids can iden­tify more types of Poke­mon than they can na­tive birds!

Your in­creas­ingly seden­tary, in­door life­styles are not only go­ing to wreak havoc with phys­i­cal health, but your men­tal health is af­fected too. Nearly 50 per cent of New Zealan­ders will ex­pe­ri­ence a men­tal health prob­lem in their life­time, and de­pres­sion is set to over­come heart dis­eases as the big­gest global health bur­den by 2020.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – ev­i­dence proves that con­nect­ing with me will make you feel hap­pier, de­crease feel­ings of de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety, im­prove con­cen­tra­tion and buf­fer against stress. Just look­ing at me from a hos­pi­tal bed has been shown to aid re­cov­ery from surgery.

The best part? I am ev­ery­where. Although New Zealand has some of the best jew­els I have to of­fer, you don’t have to travel the na­tional parks or forests. You can feel the ben­e­fits by sim­ply step­ping out into your back­yard to feel the grass be­neath your feet or gaz­ing up at the clouds in the sky.

This Men­tal Health Aware­ness Week, the Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion is call­ing for a na­tional Lock­out – that means they want you to jump off the world wide web and get amongst the spi­der webs!

So the gaunt­let has been thrown, from Oc­to­ber 10 to 16, come and hang out with me to feel all the mag­i­cal ben­e­fits.

Need some ideas for how to con­nect with me dur­ing the lock­out and beyond?

Pack a pic­nic lunch or din­ner and head to your near­est park or beach with your col­leagues, friends or fam­ily.

❚Jump on neigh­bourly.co.nz and in­vite those in your area over for a street BBQ.

Take a photo walk – ex­plore your neigh­bour­hood with your phone or cam­era and take pic­tures of an un­ex­pected splash of colour, birds, na­tive trees and pretty flow­ers.

Use nat­u­ral ma­te­rial to make art – think sea­weed, shell, sand and flow­ers.

❚❚❚Take ad­van­tage of day­light sav­ings and head out­side after school or work to play fris­bee, catch or spot­light.

Vol­un­teer at an or­gan­ised beach clean-up or do your own. It’s a great way to meet like-minded peo­ple and keep Aotearoa beau­ti­ful! For more ideas and to find out about events hap­pen­ing near you through­out Men­tal Health Aware­ness Week visit mhaw.nz. There’s also free mer­chan­dise you can or­der for your school or work­place as well as some com­pe­ti­tions you can en­ter to win some awe­some prizes! Be sure to check out #MHAWNZ on so­cial media too.

❚❚

All ages can en­joy get­ting back to na­ture.

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