Researchers in South Africa have found out that most of the people possess a strong admiration for nature, despite their age, gender or location difference. The profit of experiencing and interacting with nature for physical and psychological well-being is evident. However, the healing benefits of being in touch with nature, have received very little attention in the developing countries. Needless to say, nature, which is responsible for keeping all of us alive, is often ignored. It is not even recognized as a necessity for a part of well-being in the principal structures in the underdeveloped countries like India.
A woman, while describing her experience of being in a rural village or living next to a forest, says that she goes to the forest in order to collect wood and to get rid of her troubles (to take a break). She also said that fresh air makes her happy and it pours on to her like blessings.
Progressive efforts have failed to figure out the relationships between nature and well-being, there is a risk that they will not address the issues in a manner that leads to sustainable improvement of the quality of life for people. This is reflected in the development work that fights poverty and emphasizes economic development, housing, and sanitation as top priorities. But these factors are prioritized against the importance of a healthy natural environment.
Access to nature (which is culturally important and provides soothing experiences) is gradually becoming a luxury. This is why it is considered as something to enjoy once the basic necessities are met. Studies show that in South Africa, this has negative impacts on economically-low people as accessing nature helps them cope with difficulties in their lives, and offer psychological benefits.
Among the least developed areas in South Africa are the rural areas (of course!) and urban towns of Eastern Cape, which have high poverty rates along with high unemployment rates. These areas are characterized by high dependence on social welfare, elevated rates of crimes (including sexual violence) and poor access to qualitative schooling and medical care.
Natural spaces add to the essence of well-being and positivity and people draw strength from such spaces. Such spaces are also appreciated for their contribution towards shared tradition. A range of activities from herding livestock, harvesting natural products, recreation, solitary walks to cultural rituals brings people in touch with nature. In a survey conducted in South Africa, it is found that 90% of the 700 respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “when I am in the forest, I feel inspired and revitalized”. Also, those people who have limited access to nature expressed these sentiments too.
Since the employment opportunities are sparse in the rural areas, people seek to work in the cities and towns. They live in the urban areas with a lot of limitations, but when they get back home, those having rural roots maintain a connection with their family and friends and also get closer to nature to refresh themselves. They draw strength and reflect on their life.
Many people have expressed their sensory experience of nature and its various elements as a source of wonder and inspiration in their life. Various experiences, including seeing wild animals and plants, smelling the fresh forest air, and hearing the sounds of rustling leaves and splattered water let them gain inner peace. Indigenous forest, deep river pools, mountain peaks, and the oceans carry a strong spiritual connection with them. Studies have also found out that many people are of the opinion that being with nature, and people who spend time in natural places, often leave feeling blessed and calm.