Mental health and wellbeing
There is compelling evidence that being in nature can have a positive effect on our mental health. Studies have shown that people who don’t spend much time in nature experience higher levels of depression and anxiety, mental fatigue and stress.
Regular contact with nature and the outdoors can play an important preventive role in mental health by reducing stress and increasing quality of life. The mental health benefits of physical exercise are well known and exercising outdoors in natural settings provides a wide range of psychological and cognitive benefits. Whether it be a gentle mindfulness walk in your local park or a hike through rugged terrain, spending time in green spaces will leave you feeling happier and healthier.
Mindfulness is the act of remaining engaged in the present moment, which can help decrease stress and anxiety, improve concentration and a sense of calm. Natural settings are great for mindful practice!
The Japanese mindfulness concept of Shinrin-yoku or ‘forest-bathing’ is the act of immersing yourself in nature to improve health and wellbeing. Japanese doctors often recommend this for its restorative effect on both the mind and body. Whether you are in an urban park or national park, the key is to stay in the present moment and experience the natural environment using all your senses – sight, sound, smell, touch.
Listening to sounds in nature, including birdsongs, and observing animals in nature has also been shown to promote wellbeing, reduce stress, improve mood, and reduce attention fatigue. Natural aromas from wood and plants have calming effects too.
So how can you improve your mental health in parks?
- Take a self-guided mindfulness walk using these tips, or join one of our guided mindfulness walks.
- Slow down to the pace of the river on a canoe trip through one of our beautiful parks.
- Soak in the scenery with a horse ride in one our peaceful parks, reserves, and forests across Victoria.
- Connect to others to improve wellbeing. Try volunteering or joining a regular guided walk.
- Take a break from modern life and camp in the wilderness.