Lismore City Council is encouraging people of all ages to spend some time in nature and improve their mental and physical health.
As part of its Feel blue Touch green project, Council has installed signage at Lismore Park and the Lismore Transit Centre with a map and written guide to Lismore’s parks, walks and nature reserves.
Studies show that being in nature allows the mind to let go of everyday worries, reduces stress and calms nerves. Add a walk and you get the benefit of exercise with fresh air and the chance to spot some local wildlife.
‘Did you know that a 90-minute walk in nature – compared to a 90-minute urban walk – has a much more positive impact on mental wellbeing?’ Council’s environmental strategies officer Vanessa Tallon said.
‘That’s because a walk in nature reduces neural activity associated with the part of the brain that triggers rumination or over-thinking, known to heighten the risk of depression.’
In Victoria, Deakin University researchers ran a project to see if people with depression and related disorders could benefit from participating in a nature-based activity. They saw great results from the time people spent in nature including the exercise and skills they gained, and the social connections and sense of worth the participants felt. They called this research Feel blue Touch green, and the owner of that trademark, Parks Victoria, has granted Lismore City Council permission to use it.
Lismore City Council developed a Feel blue Touch green brochure that was launched at the 2017 Mental Health Month Expo to promote Lismore’s urban green spaces and bushland areas.
The large public signage is the next step in inspiring people to get off the couch or leave the office, take some time out in nature, and experience the mental and physical health benefits.
‘The signs highlight our best bushland tracks and other places of natural habitat where anyone can go to sit and enjoy some quiet time, walk, birdwatch or maybe even spot a koala or platypus,’ Vanessa said.
‘Examples include the Tucki Tucki Creek Recreation Park in Goonellabah and Rotary Park, a dry rainforest remnant near Lismore Base Hospital. Another is the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens in East Lismore.
‘The Friends of the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens are a partner in Feel blue Touch green and the volunteers are developing a ‘Healing Forest’, a labyrinth and contemplation sites, with the idea that nature can be enjoyed by anyone but can also play a key role in helping people heal.’
Refer to the signage to find a walk or place of natural beauty that suits you, or download a copy of the brochure at www.lismore.nsw.gov.au.