Connect With Nature, Renew Wellbeing

15 Sep 2023

There are many reasons why access to nature is important. This year the focus of Access Week, which falls between 23 and 29 September, is on how access to nature is critical to our health and wellbeing. Simply put, we need nature and cannot survive without it.

The #LoveNature Campaign hopes to help people fall in love with nature and foster a deeper connection with it, all while learning more about it at the same time. Nature areas can provide getaways that remove South Africans from the daily stress of urban life and this year's recipients of facilitated programmes were able to experience these meaningful moments in nature first hand.

It is the type of connection we make when in nature that matters. Ways to wellbeing can include a variety of activities such as appreciating beauty more consciously, using our senses to better notice what is around us or even finding meaning in the things around us and connecting with it on a more emotional level. It is this type of activity that is embedded in the Access Week programmes.

Besides the mental and emotional benefits, nature provides us with so many physical benefits such as breathing better air. Indoor air pollutants are generally two to five times higher indoors that outside. Sunlight is also much better for our internal clocks than electric light and can help us sleep better and boost our mood. We are also generally more motivated to exercise when outdoors and the removal of noise, screens and other stimulants helps reduce stress. The benefits are endless.

Not only does nature provide us with benefits while in nature, but it is providing us with clean water, food and clean air every day. These are just some of the reasons not only to get out into and enjoy nature, but to actively conserve and protect these spaces. Meaningful moments in nature and deeper connections with it can also foster this care and concern. It can motivate pro-nature and pro-social behaviours which is just one more reason to ensure that we access nature areas with purpose and significance.