An off-road treasure
About an hour out of my hometown up a winding hill and off a beaten dirt track there is hidden oasis nestled into the outback of the ACT.
With crystal clear rock pools and a cascading waterfall plummeting off the edge its no wonder the area attracts visitors from near and far.
It also tends to attract those wishing to escape the busy city life less than 100km away.
That's exactly why on a surprisingly warm 23 ° C day my boyfriend and I packed up a picnic and took ourselves out into nature to shake off the frustrating repetitiveness of day to day life.
The water was brisk but refreshing and to my surprise there was only a few other people seated around the area, lounging on the rocks.
We initially intended to spend only an hour or so but as we relaxed and nibbled on food we discovered two hours had passed by seemingly instantly.
If you google the benefits of nature/ the outdoors on de-stressing and relaxation you'll find hundreds of scientifically backed reports documenting exactly what nature can do for your mental health.
Epidemiologist Richard Mitchell (basically a fancy disease expert who studies distribution and control of diseases) believes that the impact of natural environments is simply explained as a sensory connection between your exterior senses and your psychic.
"You perceive nature with your senses. Your brain processes those sensory experiences and triggers physiological responses" (Mitchell, 2016).
This idea tends to co-align with the research found in 2016 by The University of Queensland (UQ) in which they concluded that those who visit parks for 30 minutes or more every week demonstrate much lower signs of poor mental health (Mind Matters, 2016).
Listed below are some postulated reasons for why nature itself boosts our mental health according to the Australian Mental Health in schools program known as Mind Matters:
1. Provides opportunities for physical exercise (hello happy endorphins)
2. Positive biological changes which lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol ie the stress hormone
3. Builds relationships and social connections
4. Relaxation (which is obviously ALWAYS a good thing)
Based on all of this I think its pretty safe to say an outdoors adventure never hurt anyone (except if you don't follow paths or signposted instructions/warnings).
Ultimately I had an amazing day and felt refreshed and recharged by nightfall so it was completely worth it.
Maybe you should head out somewhere in nature too?