When you think about going into the bush, do your thoughts turn to creepy crawlies, thoughts that you will be bored as there will be nothing to do, or hectic hiking trails and roughing it and that it will all be really stressful and bad for your health?
Think again! Firstly, a trip into nature has proved to be good for our mood, our health and our stress levels!
In an experiment conducted in Japan, participants were asked, whilst being monitored, to walk either in a forest or in an urban area. They also filled out questionnaires about their moods, stress levels, and other psychological measures. Results showed that those who walked in the forests had significantly lower heart rates and higher heart rate variability (indicating more relaxation and less stress), and reported better moods and less anxiety, than those who walked in urban settings.
The reasons for this effect are unclear; but scientists believe that we evolved to be more relaxed in natural spaces.
I know from my own experience of arriving at Royal Jozini, even if just for a couple of days, I can physically feel the stress leaving me! And science has proved that being in nature makes us happier, boosts our immune system and increases our attention span. And within minutes of arriving, our heart rate slows, our muscles start to relax, and regions of the brain involved in decision-making and emotions begin to quieten down. And this ultimately assists us later with our productivity!
Our Southern African forests are made up quite differently from the northern hemisphere – but we have knob thorns and acacias, fever trees and maroelas, mahogany and ironwood to name a few. Have you ever seen the knob thorns bloom in early spring?
Secondly, you don’t need to be sleeping in a pup tent in the bush to soak in what nature has to offer. At Royal Jozini there are a few private homes, nestled in the bush, that can be your home away from home – your own private bush hideaway with good beds, clean fresh linen, some amazing views and a sense of “place”, whilst the knob thorn and fever trees and a whole variety of acacia and grasses, cocoon your soul.
With this lack of crowding, you have an outstanding opportunity for reflection and freedom; even some adventure if you see a herd of elephants; discovery and mystery; some solitude and respite from modern civilization. Come and experience a wild place for your state of mind and mental freedom – and let the sounds and sights of nature heal you!
I honestly believe that we desperately need to remember all that we forgot – that we are part of the natural world and belong! Come visit!