When Ernie Dingo was on television, Australians relished in The Great Outdoors.
But, now do you find yourself spending more time looking at beautiful images on social media rather than getting out and enjoying the real thing?
Put down the smart phone.
Let’s go for a walk outside.
The more ‘connected’ we are with our Twitter followers, the more we seem to be at risk of disconnecting with nature.
Nature provides us with food, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and even the air we breathe - yet despite being dependent on it, many people are not actively integrating with it.
Around 90 per cent of the Australian population live in urban areas, and many spend a lot of their lives travelling inside a metal box, to sit inside a building, and stare at a screen.
Studies have shown that 'too much artificial stimulation and an existence spent in purely human environments may cause exhaustion and produce a loss of vitality and health'.
Research projects have also been conducted on the benefits of contact with nature and mental health - particularly depression and anxiety.
The same way an unpleasant environment can cause you to feel anxious or uncomfortable; a pleasant environment can improve your mood and even reduce stress.
Ever noticed how pleasant the sound of rain on the roof is?
The unbeatable feeling of getting some fresh air?
The sensation of the sun on your skin?
We like it.
Exposure to it makes us feel calm and more balanced, which in turn contributes to our general wellbeing.
Overall, healthy ecosystems and natural environments make an essential contribution to our quality of life. – Australian Psychological Society
So let’s shake up the New Year’s resolution list with some low-cost, high-vitality items.
Go on an adventure
Australia is renowned for its magnificent National Parks. There are some great websites that reveal some of the best walking trails with details such as distance, elevation, and time to complete. Start small. Enjoying the quiet solitude of a hike in the hills, even just being aware of breathing in and out can help reconnect you to the natural world.
Do some outdoor activity
You don’t need to spend the afternoon at Bondi’s Muscle Beach to get active outdoors. Take a soccer ball to your local park, go surfing or swimming at your local beach, kick off your shoes and go for a soft-sand run, or go for a bike ride. You don’t have to travel to the end of the earth to experience nature. Grab the kids and pitch a tent in the backyard.
Ditch the car keys
There is something soothing and relaxing about being around trees, mountains, oceans, and fresh air. Seek out easy ways to get back to nature. This could be as easy as choosing to walk rather than drive. Be more mindful in each step, and immerse yourself in your surroundings.
If there’s only one thing you accomplish this week – let it be taking your lunch-break on a park bench outdoors. Go with a friend, or go alone. But for the love of god, leave your iPhone behind.
Let life slow down, and find pleasure in the simple joys of nature that are accessible to us all.