Spending time in nature is a great way to ward off the winter blues. Here are five ways to work it into your day.
There’s no denying it – winter is well and truly upon us, and for many people that can mean a slight change in mood. You may not be able to put your finger on what exactly is wrong, but with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, gloomy winter weather and also fewer daylight hours, it’s natural to feel less motivated and a little ‘off’ in the winter months.
Winter is a really important time to focus your energy on looking after your mental health and wellbeing. Getting a regular dose of nature is a great way to achieve this.
Evidence shows that spending time in the great outdoors can help reduce your stress levels, improve your concentration and generally help you to feel happier.
So what are you waiting for? Step outside and incorporate any of these simple five actions into your day or week.
Connecting with family, friends, or even your neighbours can help give you a sense of belonging. Head to a local park or national park with the people that matter the most to you, go for a walk or a camping trip and reconnect.
Winter is a great time for camping as you can rug up and share stories around a campfire. There are plenty of great camping spots close to metropolitan Adelaide if you are looking for a quick escape. Mount Remarkable National Park has fantastic camping facilities if you are looking for a more remote getaway.
2. Be active
Get outdoors and stay active in winter – it’ll get your endorphins flowing. You don’t have to head to the gym either: walking, running and or riding in a park can be incredibly refreshing and even more enjoyable in cooler weather.
Pick somewhere picturesque for a walk, such as along the coast or on a designated walking trail, or try something else that gets the blood pumping, like organising a footy match with friends in the park.
3. Keep learning
Learning new things is a good way to keep your mind active and give you a sense of achievement, which is great for your wellbeing. Take your learning outdoors with an activity like growing your own vegetables or nature photography.
You might also like to start a backyard project by learning how to attract insects, birds or bees to your garden, how to set up a raingarden or how to turn your kitchen and garden waste into compost.
Become a citizen scientist and learn about how you can contribute to scientific research to help protect our natural environment.
4. Take notice
Truly immerse yourself in nature by taking notice of your surrounds. Losing yourself in the moment can help you feel calm and relaxed, and help you appreciate the simple things we sometimes take for granted. Take notice of the changing colours in nature over the winter months, the bare trees, the smell of rain, or the lushness of the green grass.
Winter is perfect time to enjoy some of SA’s beautiful waterfalls. If you need a helping hand to relax, you might like to try guided forest bathing. Winter is also a great time to take notice of some of our incredible wildlife – it’s whale watching season and the time to swim with giant Australian cuttlefish.
There are also many opportunities to give in nature, whether it’s sharing something from the garden or giving on a bigger scale by donating some of your time to an environmental charity or cause. You can’t put a price on the joy you get from giving.
Anything from sharing your home-grown veggies with your next-door neighbour to weeding the nature strip on your street will leave you with the warm fuzzies.
Making small changes like these can be just what you need this winter to lift your mood, recharge your batteries, and boost your wellbeing.
These actions are known as the Five Ways to Wellbeing in Nature, part of the Healthy Parks Healthy People SA initiative which is focused on the strong connections between nature and wellbeing.
This story was originally posted in June 2018.
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