New Zealand is a spectacular country, and getting into nature is relatively easy. Native forests and bushwalks, cycle trails, rivers and of course the seaside are all short drives away, or on our doorsteps.
It seems curious, then, that we have one of the highest youth teen suicide rates in the developed world. Rates of depression and anxiety are rising, and we are increasingly ‘switched on’ and running on adrenaline. Busy is the default, and many people feel they are on a hamster wheel they are unable to step off. There is some serious dysfunction with the lifestyles we are potentially able to have, and the pressures and expectations that prevent us from living to our full potential.
Mental health is complex, and there are obviously many factors involved that contribute to our alarming statistics. However, many business leaders put themselves – and their children – under huge pressure to perform, which can come at a cost.
Pressure in itself is not inherently bad, but we need a certain amount of resilience to respond appropriately to stress. To achieve at the highest levels, we need balance in all aspects of our lives, and nature can be a great way to recharge our batteries.
The benefits of reconnecting with nature and being mindfully present are well researched. Listen to birdsong on a bush trail, wade in a waterfall, go swimming or kayaking in a sheltered bay and tune in to the natural environment. Stop, breathe, and relax.
It is easy to take for granted the natural beauty of our country. If you’re looking to improve your work – life balance, make time to get out into nature. Appreciate our opportunities here in Aotearoa, and make the most of it!