There is no denying that 2020 has taken us on a rollercoaster ride unlike any we have been on before. Not only have we had to contend with a global pandemic, but the subsequent lockdown has also left our collective mental health severely marred.

According to a survey conducted by Pharma Dynamics, 56% of respondents stated that they were experiencing significantly higher levels of anxiety and stress than they did during the course of last year.  Even individuals who have previously coped considerably well during stressful situations are experiencing more frequent bouts of overwhelming emotion. For many South Africans with pre-existing mental health concerns, however, this year has been one filled with dread.

While there are numerous traditional therapies and medications that can help treat mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression, there is also a very effective and much more holistic remedy worth considering: spending time in nature.

Yes, spending time in the exquisite natural landscapes of our beautiful country can be of great benefit to your mental health.

Lions Rock Rapids Tented Camp

Exposure to nature relieves anxiety and stress

Did you know that research has shown that your stress can be relieved within minutes of setting foot in nature? When you spend time outdoors, surrounded by the immense beauty of South Africa’s varied landscapes, your cortisol levels decrease substantially.  Being in nature also boosts the production of two hormones, endorphin, and dopamine, that are known to boost happiness and a feeling of euphoria.

Apart from decreasing your anxiety and stress, being surrounded by elements of nature can also improve the quality of your sleep as exposure to natural sunlight can reset your circadian rhythm. Nature therapy, even in its simplest forms also boasts immense restorative properties that will leave you feeling both relaxed and revitalized.

Make the most of your time in nature

Although simply going for a walk in a nearby park or relaxing in your own garden may offer a welcome reprieve from the daily stressors you face, totally disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of your daily life may prove to be especially beneficial to your mental health. Living in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful countries in the world means we are privy to near-countless delightful destinations to escape to when we need to reconnect with nature.

An oasis in the heart of Mpumalanga

One such destination is Lions Rock Rapids Camp which lays nestled on the banks of the Sabie River in the heart of Mpumalanga, an approximate 4 ½ hour drive from Johannesburg.   The camp offers visitors the opportunity to indulge in the very best that Mother Nature has to offer while staying in a luxury tented camp.  While you will hardly be roughing it in the wild considering each tent sports amenities such as an en-suite bathroom, air conditioning, and tea/coffee-making facilities, you will also be able to enjoy some of life’s simpler pleasures.

At home in the wild

At Lions Rock Rapids Camp, while enveloped by your scenic surroundings, you will feel your worries slowly dissipate. Whether you choose to embark on a day trip to the nearby Kruger National Park or prefer to spend time closer to the camp, you can expect to encounter an abundance of wildlife. Apart from trying to spot a crocodile in the nearby river,  an early-morning cup of coffee in the camp’s bar area will give you the opportunity to witness fish eagles and kingfishers catching fish as the night gives way to another glorious day. Lions Rock is also home to the elusive Narina Trogon, a beautiful red and green bird that is considered a rare find by avid birdwatchers.

Your mental health is important

There are many reasons why it is important to escape to nature and boost your mental health.  Not only will decreased stress levels leave you feeling more positive, but it will also have a direct impact on your productivity and personal growth.  In addition, improved mental health can also contribute to your physical health,  boosting your immune system, and making you less susceptible to illness.

Regardless of how busy you may be and how important it is for you to not let anyone else down, you need to be kind to yourself as well.  Your mental health and general well-being should always remain your top priority. Take that stroll in the park, book that weekend away at a gorgeous secluded spot, and dance in the rain – you are worth it!

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