Boost your wellbeing with digital nature experiences at home or in a local space if you're able
Image: Blaz Erzetic | ©

Introduction

Boost your wellbeing with our immersive digital nature experiences or outdoors if you can with this activity from Healthy Nature, Healthy People.

Use this activity to boost your wellbeing by connecting with nature. New Zealand’s nature can help your health and wellbeing as studies show it can improve your focus, mood, and immune system.

Follow the below steps to see nature through new eyes either at home with digital resources or in a local nature space. If you can, bring along friends or family/whānau and share fresh perspectives.

Boost your wellbeing:

Boost your wellbeing with a digital experience

Step 1: Choose a digital experience

Choose an audio soundscape or video file using one of the links below. Use headphones if you can.


Immerse in our digital soundscape

Audio experiences

For Conservation Week 2020, we created a unique soundscape rich with the sounds from the sea to the mountains.

This audio track starts at the shore and over 10 minutes, shifts to an alpine environment. The sounds you hear have been collected all across New Zealand over 80 years by DOC staff and sound designer, Daniel Fraser.

Visual experiences

We created video experiences for wellbeing with support from Natural History NZ which are available below.

The videos have been used as part of a study in Christchurch schools, and showed lasting benefits. This included improving attention and calm.

Pick a video using a link below:

Step 2: Engage your senses

Focus on your breathing

Focus on your breath. Inhale slowly until you feel your lungs have filled, then exhale. Focus on the feeling of air moving through your nose and lungs, then exiting again. Repeat this for around 20 seconds or longer.

Identify living creatures

Open the video or audio experience and listen closely to the sounds you can hear as they play. You can close your eyes to help you focus.

Identify the layers of sounds you can hear. Try to identify individual animals and how their sounds enter and fade away from your awareness. Be aware of when you can hear them and how they change from one to the next.

If you’re watching a video, try to see each movement of the animal’s body. Think of it like a building block towards an action. Be mindful of each choice in their physical behaviour.

Think about the natural environment

See what you can use to identify the natural environment the animals you’re aware of are in. Listen for the distinct sounds each animal makes.

Hear the environmental sounds and use them to identify the elements of the space that make it a habitat for the living creatures you can hear.

Consider what time of day it might be and the temperature you would feel. Imagine what you would smell, feel and touch in that space.

Step 3: Review your experience

Once you’ve finished your experience, think about what you feel. Take note if your feelings have changed positively, and what you liked most about the experience.

Take note of the elements you like the most and look for them next time you’re around nature. If you see or hear the natural sights of sounds you enjoy outside, use your smartphone or camera to capture them.

Boost your wellbeing outdoors

You can do this activity alone or with some family or friends. Take your smartphone or camera with you to take pictures of what you see.

Step 1: Choose a nature space

Choose a natural space local to you. This can be a local reserve, or you can use DOC maps to find your location and direct you to your nearest park or walk.

If going as a group, discuss natural spaces you each enjoy the most, and what you like about them. Work together to choose a location you all want to visit.

Step 2: Engage your senses

Notice each natural element around you slowly, one after another, using your senses:

Start with sound

Once you’ve found your natural space, find a comfy log or boulder near water, and listen to the music it produces for five minutes.

Listen to the birdsong and try to identify if the calls you hear are repetitive or melodic. Try to be aware of each bird you hear and the differences of their songs.

Take a walk

Once you’re ready, take a walk and stop to feel the bark of each tree you pass. Close your eyes and take time to feel the texture and unique differences of each.

If it’s dry, take your shoes off and experience the track or space barefoot for a while. Consider how the ground feels different without your shoes between you and the ground.

Try to feel which way the wind is blowing and to identify what things move with the wind: leaves, grass, flowers, tree limbs

Explore your surroundings

Take some deep breaths and concentrate on the smell of nature. See if the smell helps to identify the nature, weather and temperature in the environment.

Look carefully for small  flowers and plants such as lichen and fungi. Native trees can also have inconspicuous flowers at certain times of years.

Use your smart phone to takes pictures of the different elements of nature you see and explore. Use your zoom functions to examine and record what you see.

Step 3: Review your experience

Once you’ve finished taking time for your experience, consider how you feel. You might feel more at ease, or more focused. You may even feel differently about nature or the natural space you’ve been exploring.

Look through your photos. If you’ve shared the experience with friends and family/whānau, compare the different pictures you’ve taken. Examine what you each chose to capture and in what ways.

Consider if your feelings have changed positively, and what you liked most about the experience.

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