I see that a focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness week was ‘Letting nature in’, encouraging New Zealanders to get out and connect with nature, in light of its proven benefits for mental and spiritual wellbeing. (A survey undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation last year found that 95 per cent of New Zealanders reported a lift in mood after spending time in nature.)
This must be serendipity at work: something has been pulling me towards this theme as the potential subject of a future book for some time now … you can see the trail that has led me here in recent posts (Treasuring our gully ecosystems, Trees as sacred: What we can learn from tonari no totoro and Discovering our own sacred groves). And my last book purchase was Florence Williams’ “Nature Fix”, which explores, among other things, the benefits of shinrinyoku (forest-bathing) – a sort of mindfulness undertaken within nature, a practice which originated in the 1980s in Japan.
What I am interested in finding out is has anyone done any research (e.g., Masters, Doctoral theses) on this subject in the New Zealand context? (I have found this 2015 DOC commissioned report that includes some discussion.) Or is there anyone with particular expertise or experience in this field?
If you have some tips, please be in touch, either through the comments or email me on envirohistorynz at gmail dot com. Thank you!