Mental Health Awareness Week | Staff top spots to stretch the legs and minds
It's Mental Health Awareness Week this week, with an important theme of reconnecting with people and places that lift you up.
It’s not surprising that for the team here at the NZ Mountain Safety Council, reconnecting in, and with, Aotearoa’s tracks, native bush and fresh air is what boosts their mental health and well-being.
Whether it be to escape the city life, disconnect from technology or to spend quality time solo or with friends and family, everyone has their own reason why reconnecting outdoors is an important aspect of positive mental health.
Bevan Smith – Partnerships Advisor
Getting into the ngāhere regularly really helps me to refresh my body, mind and spirit. The breath of fresh air and immersion in nature really does help me to reset my state of mind, and I prefer to be active, which gives me the boost I need to be more resilient to cope with the daily challenges which can arise at any stage, and to be kind to others (and my kids) in times of conflict.
Additionally, when looking to properly connect with my partner, or with close friends, I find that doing an activity outdoors is such a great way to have ‘real’ conversations and openly share what’s on our minds, reflect on the past and plan for the future.
Ros Wells – Communications Advisor: Visual
This event arrives at the perfect time of year for experiencing some of the first outdoor excursions after what feels like a very long wet winter. My friends and I like to explore the many amazing local bushwalks in Wellington together to stretch the legs, chat over our struggles and feel transported despite them being only a short distance to get there. It is incredible how many tracks there are right in the capital that are super easy to get to, stressless but you feel like you’re on a real adventure and taken away from the normal routines of work and responsibilities. The Karori Skyline Walkway, Butterfly Creek in Eastbourne and Wilton’s Bush are some of our top picks and we see many other folks getting out and enjoying themselves too. Fresh weather, fresh experiences for a fresh mindset!
Sarah Topliff - Firearms Programme Administrator
I love to walk - solo along the beach with music blasting in my earphones watching the waves crashing in and the horizon as it melds with the sky, or around the Waikanae River with my friends late into the evening with our head torches on; sorting out the big issues and catching up on news, or with my kids in the ngāhere discovering the peace and happiness that the stillness of the air or the wildness of the wind, the call of the manu, the physical exertion, and the feeling of accomplishment walking brings. Reconnecting with my favourite people in my favourite places while walking re-energises me and clears my head, and I always come home with a big smile on my face.
Nathan Watson – Operations Manager
I love to get out with my two young boys and wife and spend time away from the hustle and bustle of a busy house, chores to do, and beeping screens. It’s uplifting to see kids explore and learn, and watch the way they find joy in new things, or things I’ve seen so many times that are new to them. The combination of the forest, a stream, kids laughing, smiles and exercise is revitalising. Locally we love Otari-Wilton bush, Butterfly Creek and Mt KauKau.
Adam Smith – Hunting Partnerships Advisor
Our family is a mob of keen trampers and we get out every chance we get, even if it’s just a short walk.
Local favourites for us are Red Rocks or any of the tracks out of Waiohine Gorge or Holdsworth Lodge. We’ve had a few chances to take new trampers out and show them the outdoors. If we have time, we might drive them up to the Ruahine Ranges and walk Rangiwahia Hut on the West side or Sunrise Hut on the East. We’ve done both of these walks with different groups at different times of year. Check the weather, it will guide you.
Playing games while you walk can help take the edge off a gristly kid until they have time to settle into the rhythm, 20 questions carries a lot of weight here!
For me, any time on the hill is helpful for my mental health.
Rebekah Wilson – Communications Advisor: Written
After a big day at work sometimes the last thing I want to do is any form of exercise, mainly because I really value just relaxing at home, winding down. Sometimes this mindset makes me forget how important it is to just go for a stroll around the block or out to the beach at a minimum. Being able to see Wellington’s Mt Victoria Lookout from my lounge window means hitting a short bush walk for fresh air and a view is hard to avoid. But boy, once I’m out there I definitely don’t regret it. For these ‘wind down’ walks, I prefer to go on my own and without music which is that sense of ‘reconnecting’ in a place that mentally and physically uplifts me.
If you’re wanting to reconnect with the outdoors this Mental Health Awareness Week, use Plan My Walk to help find a new track near you. PMW helps to find the right track for one's abilities, check for any track alerts issued by DOC and MetService weather warnings, and a suggested gear list which can be sent to group members and emergency contacts.