Photo Credit: Unsplash

The little things can make big differences, and sometimes exploring the outside world in its most natural form can help make the challenges in our inner worlds a little lighter. Here are a few spots perfect for finding serenity through nature across South Africa:


South Africa (10 October 2023) — October is Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa; a time when we reflect on the workings of our inner worlds and the inner worlds of those around us. While reconnecting with the best parts of the outside world through nature is by no means the end-all fix to mental health challenges (though it would be really awesome if it were that simple), finding serenity through nature certainly helps.

As such, this October the South African National Biodiversity Institute invites all South Africans to reconnect with nature by spending time in one of South Africa’s 11 national botanical gardens: havens of unspoiled, safe and gorgeous biodiversity, where you and those you care about can find a little serenity when the inner worlds become overwhelming.

Ours is the Generation Most Disconnected from Nature

Human beings are creatures of nature. Yet most of us rush about, living metropolitan lives, driven by deadlines, and operating under the pressure of daily demands and the stress of being a 21st-century mover and shaker.

No generation has ever been as isolated from nature, and all the benefits of spending time in nature, as ours is. It’s no wonder that universal stress levels are seemingly through the roof.

Scientists have done the research and confirm what many know from personal experience: time spent in a garden is good for you. In fact, it’s very good for you. Just 30 minutes a day spent outdoors helps reduce stress, depression and anxiety. Moreover, it enhances creativity and boosts cognitive ability.

Walking outdoors is great for physical health, too. Just 30 minutes or so a day of gentle outdoor exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, limbers up joints, brings blood pressure down, boosts Vitamin D in your system, gets your serotonin levels up, and helps you sleep better.

There are also significant social and emotional benefits to spending time in a botanical garden. It’s an unrivalled way to reconnect with loved ones: out in the fresh air; surrounded by the beauty of biodiverse nature; and away from screens, telephones and artificial lighting, all of which can seem necessary but need to be deprioritised over investing in relationships and sound mental and physical health.

There are 11 national botanical gardens across South Africa to explore, each a gem of beautiful, unique South African biodiversity waiting to work a little magic on all of us:

Explore a South African Haven of Natural Serenity

  • Betty’s Bay (Harold Porter National Botanical Garden)
  • Bloemfontein (Free State National Botanical Garden)
  • Cape Town (Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden)
  • East London (Kwelera National Botanical Garden)
  • Johannesburg/Roodepoort (Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden)
  • Mokopane (Mokopane Biodiversity Conservation Centre)
  • Mbombela (Lowveld National Botanical Garden)
  • Nieuwoudtville (Hantam National Botanical Garden)
  • Pietermaritzburg (KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden)
  • Thohoyandou (Thohoyandou National Botanical Garden)
  • Tshwane (Pretoria National Botanical Garden and the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa – that’s a favourite picnic spot in the city)
  • Worcester (Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden)

Sources: SANBI
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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