Can nature really make us happier?

From outback towns to bustling concrete jungles, modern life is busy and stressful. However, there is an antidote and it’s found in your own backyard. Think back to the last time you answered the call of the wild. You may have sat on a pristine beach, paddled down a river, walked through wildflowers or enjoyed lunch in the local park. Did you feel happy, relaxed or calm afterwards?

For the month of June, we’ll show you how to fit nature into a busy life. There will be articles, interviews and a 30-Day reBoot.

Our brains and bodies on nature

Intuitively, we’ve always known that nature nurtures us. It’s the reason we come back from fishing trips with empty buckets and huge smiles. It’s why hiking trips drenched by untimely storms still bring us plenty of joy. It’s why kids are told to “go outside and play”. And, its why scientists have spent years studying how our brains react to nature.

In a 2014 study, Stanford researchers discovered that participants who spent 90-minutes walking through an urban park dwelled less on negative thoughts. Plus, they enjoyed decreased activity in the area of the brain associated with depression. Nature is a fantastic mood booster and it has an impact on our physical wellbeing too. Scientists analysed 143 different studies on the health benefits of green spaces. Across the studies, they discovered improved heart rate and blood pressure, reductions in cholesterol levels, improved sleep and more. Some doctors have even begun prescribing time in nature as treatment for a range of conditions. The science is in, nature makes us happier and healthier.

Penguin Island, Shoalwater Islands Marine Park | Tourism Western Australia

The 2-hour a week wellness rule

Last year, scientists pondered the big question: how much nature is enough? Recent research suggests that spending two-hours a week in nature significantly boosts health and wellbeing, even if you just sit and enjoy the peace. What’s even more significant, the health benefits of two hours in nature were the same for people of all ages and demographics. No matter who you are or where you’re from, nature can give you a positive boost.

This is great news for all people living in Western Australia. With more sunny days than most cities and accessible natural beauty that calls us outside, there are more chances to get two hours of nature a week. Remember, you don’t have to visit far flung locations as beaches, urban parks, rivers and foreshores all count as nature.

The best places to get 2-hours of nature close to Perth
If you live in Perth city, you’ll know that our remote metropolis is best explored outside. We’ve rounded up our favourite places to enjoy nature that are close to home and within easy reach.

Visit one of the largest parks in the world

In Perth, we have one of the largest and most beautiful inner-city parks in the world. Kings Park is spectacular with sweeping river views and 3,000 species of flora. Its central location and public transport access make it a great spot for a day long picnic or a quick stroll.

Go island hopping with Little Penguins in tow
Penguin Island is a marine-lovers’ paradise and it’s only 700 metres off the coast of Rockingham. Even though it’s a short trip, the journey to Penguin Island is almost as good as the destination. No matter what vessel you choose – kayak, canoe or ferry –the crystal-clear waters are a playground for dolphins, seals and sea birds.

Walking, cycling and waterfalls
Unleash your inner wild child in John Forest National Park. This is the place to go mountain biking, follow flowing creeks, hike to waterfalls, take in birdsong or try forest bathing. With walks and trails for all levels it’s a great escape for young families, as long as you don’t mind meeting a few kangaroos along the way!

Find your own pocket park
There’s nothing better than having a natural paradise that’s walking distance away from your home. There are plenty of urban parks in Perth that will fulfil your nature needs. Some of our favourites are Manning Park, Point Walter Reserve, Lake Monger Reserve and Canning River Regional Park. If none of these parks pique your interest, then open up maps and find the closest section of green. You never know what you’ll uncover.

Couple enjoying the view from the Lotterywest Federation walkway at Kings Park and Botanic Garden | Tourism Western Australia

5 ways to enjoy nature in June

As restrictions keep lifting across Australia, there has never been a more important time to enjoy nature and boost our mental health and wellbeing. Our 30-Day reBoot challenge is the perfect way to connect with nature and reap the benefits. We’ve selected our five favourite challenges from the 30-Day reBoot.

1. Dip your toes in the ocean
In wintertime we often neglect one of our most beautiful natural spots; our beaches. June is the perfect time to rug up, go for a windy beach walk and watch the clouds roll in.

2. Discover Bush Tucker
Kings Park has been a place of great significance to its traditional custodians, the Wadjuk Nyoongar people. And, there’s no better place to discover bush tucker in Perth.

3. Try Forest Bathing
‘Forest bathing’ is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, the medicine of simply being in the forest. Find out how to do it by reading this guide.

4. Get Artsy Outside
Do you often find that inspiration strikes while you’re in nature? Your local park is the perfect place to draw, paint, craft or write. Kids can enjoy nature art too. We have developed ideas and activities for curious minds and playful spirits.

5. Explore a National Park
Calm your mind and awaken your senses at one of our incredible National Parks. With more than 31 million hectares of bush and marine parks across our state, you’re spoilt for choice.

 

Ready to spring into parks this June? Download the 30-Day reBoot and improve your health and happiness by spending time in nature.