This year the New Zealand Naturist Federation are creating a powerful summer campaign to create awareness of the benefits of naturism to a person's body, mind and soul.
The concept is "Love the Skin You're In" which aligns to our gonatural brand tag-line of ‘health and well-being’ and will focus on two really important issues that many are faced with today - positive body image and mental health awareness - and sometimes these are interlinked.
Body image is the mental representation that one creates of themselves, and because it is subject to all kinds of internal elements like our mood, our experiences and social attitudes, it often doesn't bear any close relation to reality or how others see you.
A negative body image is one of the key reasons that more people do not embrace the naturist lifestyle. They mightn't have any issue with nudity per se and might even realise the many benefits that can be experienced physically from being clothes-free, but think it's only for other people feeling too self conscious or body shamed to partake themselves.
Many of our members can attest to having similar feelings and issues with acceptance of their body before embarking on their naturist journey however almost as soon as they took that first step, or at least very early on, they found they were looking at themselves through very different eyes. Self-esteem is greatly enhanced in the naturist lifestyle and our own self-esteem increases when we accept ourselves for who we really are. However, it isn't until a person gives it a try, that they can experience that concept for themselves.
A negative body image can, but not always, lead to mental health issues. Writing about mental health can put it in a box rather than creating context around it somewhat trivialising the issue which is not our intention. One thing we know is that each sufferer and and their symptoms are unique and individual. From depression and anxiety to stress and grief, mental health affects those close to most of us at some time in our life.
Hardly a week or day goes by where we don't hear of another person who has ended, or tried to end, the pain they are experiencing from their internal struggles. Sadly this mostly, although not exclusively, affects our men and young people.
Wouldn't a better story be to show the effects and benefits that naturism can bring a person; being close to nature, feeling the breeze over all of your body and not just your face; hearing the sounds of nature and song of birds in the trees; grounding yourself to the earth by walking with bare feet on the grass.
Researchers are discovering that vitamin D may play an important role in mental health and in depression and recently the Mental Health Foundation held their annual Mental Health Awareness Week with the theme again being"Nature is Key". It is being recognised that nature, sun and feeling free in the fresh air are important elements to helping a person towards better mental health.
In addition to this is the sense of community and caring that can be found throughout our member organisations where respect and acceptance of every person is evident and part of our naturist principles.
We do not expect that naturism is the one cure-all for every sufferer (it might be and that would be awesome), but we do believe clothes-free recreation and getting close to nature could form part of a person's journey to whole health that they possibly hadn't considered before.
Remember as a young child . . . the seemingly endless days of summer; the sprinkler going in the backyard; off come your clothes; the squeals of delight as you run through the water; jumping in the puddles; the feel of water, sun and breeze on your bare skin; the innocent fun and pure joy?
Our aim this summer is to share how everyone can experience the innocent joy, freedom and benefits that naturism brings to enhance their well-being, and to love the skin they're in.