Nature is all around us, but how often do we take the time to stop, relax, and bask in its beauty. Not only does nature offer a respite from our built environments, but research has also shown that spending time in the great outdoors offers many benefits to our health and wellbeing. People that spend a couple of hours a week in nature – whether all at once or in smaller increments – were more likely to report good health and well-being. From lowering heart rates to boosting our immunity, a dose of green can contribute to a long, healthy and happy life. Interested in getting immersed in nature, but not sure where to start? We’ve put together some ideas on how you can make the most of green spaces.
Visit a national park
From coastal clifftops, to snow-covered gum trees, and everything in between, Australia offers a diverse range of ecosystems. With an impressive 870 national parks and reserves in NSW alone, Australians are spoiled for choice when it comes to time spent in the outdoors. National parks offer visitors the chance to enjoy a variety of experiences, including taking in awe-inspiring views, standing in the shade of tree canopies, feeling the mighty power of iconic waterfalls, or spotting some furry friends. For those that enjoy bushwalking, check out your state’s national parks website to find a walk to suit your ability level. Most national parks offer a range of walks, from flat walks suitable for wheelchair users, all the way up to walks that cater for experienced bushwalkers.
Join a community garden
If you’re after something a bit more hands on, then joining a community garden might be for you. Whether you’re already a keen gardener, or an enthusiastic beginner, community gardens offer the opportunity to grow food and contribute to the creation of green urban environments, while meeting and socialising with other members of your local community. For those keen to start their own backyard veggie patch, community gardens are also a great way to increase your knowledge around growing techniques, improving soil quality, and what to plant and when. Check out your local council website to find out more about community gardens in your area.
Take a dip
It may be winter now, but the warmer weather will be upon us before we know it, and one of the best ways to soak up the sunshine is with a quick dip. Whether at your local pool, or in the ocean, swimming offers the benefits of physical active and nature therapy all in one. If you’re keen to dip your toe in, your independent support worker can support you to find a swimming option that works best for you. Swimming not your thing? You can still enjoy the benefits of being waterside with a nice picnic, a river cruise, or a leisurely stroll by the sea.
Explore a private garden
All around Australia there are idyllic gardens just waiting to be explored. Many private gardens open during Autumn and Spring, to allow visitors to enjoy beautiful spring blooms and rich autumnal colours. These gardens offer something for everyone, from flower beds full of floral delights, to perfectly-groomed hedges that would make any garden lover jealous. Private gardens generally charge a small entry fee, with the funds often going to charity, making it the perfect day out for those who you want to enjoy the outdoors while also doing a good deed.
Bring the outdoors in
Think you need to head outdoors to enjoy the benefits of nature? Think again. Research has shown that even simply viewing scenes of nature can lead to feelings of relaxation. Whether it’s a piece of nature-inspired art, or your favourite David Attenborough doco, soaking up visions of green spaces can contribute to a greater sense of well-being. Add in some indoor plants and flowers, and you’ll be reaping those nature rewards before you know it.