Challenge yourself to spend more quality time in nature.
This month, Mind Hong Kong challenged Hongkongers to complete 50km in nature through its Move it for Mental Health campaign. The goal? To raise awareness of the benefits of exercise on our physical and mental health. Research shows that just two hours in nature per week can reduce depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve creativity and cognitive abilities, among other things.
Understandably with the pandemic, many of us have been staying home to keep case numbers down. But there are definitely ways to spend quality time in nature while still keeping socially distant and safe. The campaign may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to make it a goal to get outdoors more! To help you along, here are five ways to reconnect with nature (and improve your physical and mental health while you’re at it!).
Read more: 8 Habits To Improve Your Mental Health
Go On A Mindful Walk
Most of us are guilty of spending the majority of our waking hours jumping between household chores, work emails and WhatsApp messages. This can make it difficult to find the time to really engage with the environment around us.
Engaging fully in your senses is an excellent circuit breaker for stress and feelings of anxiety, and this can be achieved by going on a simple stroll outside. Leave your phone at home (or keep it switched off), and make it a point to really try and pay attention to your surroundings as you walk around. Take in the sights, smells and sounds, and feel the breeze brush against your skin.
You’ll feel rejuvenated with a calmer energy and clearer mind once you return home, and all the more ready to tackle the next task on your to-do list!
Take Up An Outdoor Hobby
Doing activities that increase our sense of pleasure and personal achievement can really boost our mental health – all the more when done in nature. Why not try picking up photography or sketching and capture the environment around you? Or make the most of the elements and try out a new sport like trail running, stand-up paddle boarding or coasteering. This will get your heart pumping and you can take in some gorgeous views at the same time!
Many people took the closing of gyms and sports venues as an excuse to stop exercising altogether, which meant they were missing out on both the physical and mental benefits of exercise. Now that social distancing measures are easing up again, people can start to get back on track with their fitness goals.
It’s fantastic to hear that gyms are back in business, but don’t limit yourself to this space. The 852 gives us access to lush rolling hills and breathtaking coastlines. Why not bolster your studio routine with squats by the seaside or yoga atop a mountain? The fresh air is sure to do you some good!
Socialise In Nature
Throughout the pandemic, we have found a variety of ways to stay connected with our friends and family virtually, but it’s also good to make in-person social connections when we can.
Arrange to go on a hike, visit a park or walk down a promenade together. The natural surroundings not only provide fresh air and a feast for the senses, but it also offers a more private and peaceful environment for you to properly catch up and check in on how the other person is doing.
If you feel more comfortable walking solo, try calling a friend to keep you company over the phone. It’ll certainly make getting in your steps so much more enjoyable.
Give Back To The Environment
Nature does so much good for our body and soul, it only seems right that we do our part to give back to the environment in return. The act of doing good for the planet is also a great way to boost your self-esteem and reduce stress – talk about a win-win!
Here are some ideas for how you can give back to the environment:
- Join a clean-up hike or collect litter at a park or beach with a couple of friends.
- Plant seeds along a nature trail, such as berry bushes for birds to eat off or flowers for bees to pollinate.
- Volunteer your time to a conservation project with environmental organisations such as WWF Hong Kong, Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society and Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden. Check out The Conservancy Association for more suggestions.
Images courtesy of Mind Hong Kong.