Why a Country Change is a perfect prescription for mental and physical health
The current global pandemic definitely has more of us contemplating our health and wellbeing than ever before. Anyone watching the news or current affairs will be aware that the spread of viruses and disease can be more detrimental in areas with a densely packed population.
Unsurprisingly then, more people than ever before are having thoughts of moving to the Country. Research is now beginning to show that, as restriction ease and life-as-it-once-was attempts to regain traction, people are taking action on their desires.
James MacSmith of RealEstate.com.au recently stated, “The real estate boom in regional Australia is one of the most significant and tangible effects of the coronavirus pandemic.” Suggesting we are already seeing far higher numbers realising the potential for positive lifestyle and housing changes in regional areas such as the Riverina.
With alternatives for almost every stress the city presents, regional towns across Australia can ease the drain on city-based resources, stem the depletion of personal funds and provide a panacea for the soul.
Physical and mental health benefits of making a Country Change
Coronavirus aside, often what people need most, regardless of where they live, is greater work-life balance as this has many flow-on effects for both physical and mental health.
One basic example, spending less time on your daily commute will mean more time for physical activity; to do an exercise class or go for a walk with the family. It will often also mean you have more time for psychological or spiritual activities, such as contemplation, planning, meditation and community engagement.
The science is unequivocal; physical health is directly related to mental health and vice versa. Open Minds, a leading provider of mental health and disability support services in Australia, makes these links very clear. “Poor mental health can make every day tasks more difficult, such as engaging in physical activity, making wise food choices, and making and maintaining friendships … [it] can also impact decision making, the way a person sees themselves and the world around them.” Open Minds also stresses that “physical activity, in particular, can boost mental health through the release and uptake of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in the brain.”
In addition to this data, the Black Dog Institute reveals that one in five Australians (that’s 20% of us) aged 16-85 will experience a mental illness in any year. The most common mental illnesses are depressive or centre around anxiety and substance use. It becomes evident, then, that the effects of such conditions will be wide-ranging and present challenges not only to individuals and families but also to communities, health services and economies.
You might think it is a cliché that country living is associated with images of green fields, big blue skies and wide country roads. These portraits have become popularly associated with life in the country because that is actually what it is like. It is no misnomer.
Many country folk will tell you they feel less stressed than their city friends and they believe there are more health benefits. But if you are going to consider packing up your city life for a Country Change, you want something a bit more concrete than just the vague feelings of someone who lives there.
Feature Photo: A man standing in the wheat fields of Coolamon Shire, NSW. Photo credit: Elise Hawthorn