Be­ing out in na­ture im­proves well­be­ing

Otago Daily Times - - REGIONS WEEKEND - JOSHUA WAL­TON joshua.wal­ton@odt.co.nz

A QUEEN­STOWN pho­tog­ra­pher who has lived with de­pres­sion for the past decade has re­vealed how be­ing im­mersed in na­ture helps him im­prove his men­tal well­be­ing.

In re­cent years, Si­mon Wil­liams (44) has dis­cov­ered the power well­ness tools and the great out­doors to bet­ter un­der­stand his own feel­ings.

His love of pho­tog­ra­phy, cou­pled with his fo­cus on the ‘‘five steps to men­tal well­be­ing’’, had had a ma­jor im­pact on his abil­ity to deal with de­pres­sion, which first struck in his mid­30s, he said.

‘‘Be­ing open and hon­est has helped me and those around me.

‘‘It’s just about sur­round­ing my­self with na­ture.

‘‘That can be as sim­ple as stand­ing un­der a tree in town and just ob­serv­ing or just tak­ing my­self into the back coun­try for a day.’’

He ex­plained how shar­ing his work on In­sta­gram and us­ing other tech­niques helped him achieve a more pos­i­tive state of mind.

By tak­ing self­ies and putting words to each pic­ture he was able to be­come more in touch with his emo­tions.

The five steps to men­tal well­be­ing he tries to keep in mind in his daily life are con­nect­ing with peo­ple, learn­ing, be­ing self­aware, be­ing ac­tive and giv­ing to oth­ers.

‘‘It does help — it’s not an in­stant fix.’’

A pho­to­graph taken by Wil­liams of a moun­tain biker in Wanaka has been pub­lished in a newly re­leased book by Nikon — I Am New Zealand: Aotearoa Through Many Eyes.

He said look­ing back on the pho­to­shoot he could see how he achieved many of the five steps.

Sur­vey fig­ures re­leased by the Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion (MHF) of New Zealand last month showed 95% of Ki­wis

who re­sponded said spend­ing time in na­ture made them feel good.

Nearly 50% of New Zealan­ders will ex­pe­ri­ence a men­tal health prob­lem dur­ing their life­time, ac­cord­ing to the MHF.

PHOTO: SI­MON WIL­LIAMS

Great out­doors . . . Si­mon Wil­liams’ pho­to­graph of moun­tain biker Tris­tan Muir­head at Iron­side Hill in Wanaka, which was pub­lished in Nikon’s pho­tog­ra­phy col­lec­tion, I Am New Zealand: Aotearoa Through Many Eyes.

PHOTO: EMMA NICKELS

Nat­u­ral rem­edy . . . Queen­stown pho­tog­ra­pher Si­mon Wil­liams (44).

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