Get a dose of nature at ZEALANDIA
Promoting human health and well-being by connecting people with the natural world
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 Oct) and one of the key messages being promoted this year is the power of nature – and with good reason too. Over the past three decades we have a seen a growing body of research supporting the idea that making time for nature can positively impact our health and well-being. For example, one recently published study has shown that just 30 minutes or more of green-space each week can significantly lower the prevalence of depression and high blood-pressure. In addition, increasing time in nature is positively correlated with increasing physical activity and social interaction, both of which can further benefit our mental health.
It’s worth noting that one of the key goals of ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary is to promote human health and well-being by helping to connect people with the natural world. In our 20 Year Strategy, we have defined 'Our Purpose (Te Kupu Tauākī)' as a whole to be 'We connect people with our unique natural heritage, and inspire actions that transform how people live with nature in our cities, towns and beyond' (p 10-11). We aim to be 'A Place That Empowers' our visitors, local communities and beyond.
This means constantly striving to maximise accessibility and enrich the experience of Te Māra a Tāne for anyone able to visit. It also means inspiring people beyond the fence to access, nurture and enjoy nature in their own communities, wherever they may be.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that being out in nature doesn’t mean you have to drive far or access a national park, it can be as easy as stepping outside your front door. Whether you choose to stroll down the road to your local park, listen to the birdsong in the trees, or simply sit on an outdoor bench and contemplate the horizon – the most important thing is that you take the time to step away from indoor activities and enjoy something that nature has to offer.
If you’re in the neighbourhood this week, we’d love to see you at ZEALANDIA, so we can share our nature-rich forest with you and introduce you to some special native creatures that are thriving in our protected sanctuary. No matter where you are, or how busy your week seems, please remember to give yourself a little time to enjoy whatever greenspace you can find – there is little doubt that you’ll feel better for it!
(Some of our volunteers are participating in the Mental Health Awareness Foundation's fifteen day photo challenge - check out their photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook by searching for #MHAWNZ and #ZEALANDIA).
Author: Ali McDonald (with edits from ZEALANDIA)
Photo credit: Judi Lapsley Miller
Shanahan, D. F., Bush, R., Gaston, K. J., Lin, B. B., Dean, J., Barber, E. & Fuller, R. A. (2016). Health benefits from nature experiences depend on dose. Scientific Reports, 6, 28551.
Mental Health Awareness Week website