Nature has so much to offer. If we are willing to connect with nature, we can find much wisdom and healing there.
Caring for animals, going for a walk in the park, watching a sunset, or simply acknowledging the texture of grass under your feet are all simple ways to respect our relationship with the natural world around us.
Finding comfort and peace of mind in our fast-paced, technologically-driven world has become harder. Our mental health suffers as a result of the constant barrage of screens and daily worries. But one of the effective treatments we all have access to is nature!
A growing amount of studies has proven that engaging with the natural world through eco-therapy can significantly improve our mental & physical health in recent years.
Let’s get to know more about Ecotherapy, its forms, and its benefits.
Eco-therapy, commonly referred to as nature therapy or green therapy, is a type of wellness treatment that draws on nature’s therapeutic benefits to advance mental health. Theodore Roszak invented this concept, which is informed by systems theory and allows individuals to investigate their relationship with the environment.
Ecotherapy is a holistic method of treatment that acknowledges the relationship between environmental sustainability and human health. It involves spending time with nature and taking advantage of its therapeutic qualities to improve mental health.
Simple activities such as walking in the park, gardening, going on a hike, or horticultural treatment are examples of eco-therapy techniques. The core concept of ecotherapy is that nature significantly impacts our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Forms of Eco-therapy (ECO-THERAPY ACTIVITIES AND TECHNIQUES)
There are many different forms of ecotherapy, also known as activities or techniques – which you can try at your convenience and interest.
Below, we will be listing 5 different yet popular forms of eco-therapy:
Gardening Therapy: Horticultural treatment typically includes gardening, but it can also include caring for, watering, or just spending time with plants indoors.
Forest Therapy: Forest treatment is based on the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, which translates as “forest bathing.” It is a tried-and-true method of relaxing in the forest and promoting both physical and mental wellness. According to the Cleveland Clinic, some advantages of forest bathing include enhanced calmness, less tension, and improved physical activity.
Outdoor therapy: Camping and trekking outdoors while engaging in survival-skills training and exercises are part of wilderness therapy, which immerses the patient in nature. It helps in the development of self-confidence, the elimination of negative thoughts, the improvement of communication skills, and the building the foundation of trust.
Animal therapy: Spending time with an animal or animals is part of animal-assisted therapy. It can be done outside on a farm or indoors with therapeutic animals such as dogs. A session may include touching, feeding, or grooming animals under the watchful eye of a professional therapist.
Green Workout: Green exercise simply implies engaging in physical activity while being outside in nature. This could involve any outside activity, such as gardening, walking, cycling, running, or horseback riding, to mention a few.
Those who spend significant time in nature and get some fresh air are less likely to suffer from stress than those who do not.
According to a study conducted in Finland on 527 workers, doing some exercise and spending time in nature were the best strategies to decompress from work stress.
Being surrounded by natural landscapes, such as woods, mountains, or bodies of water, can relax the mind and body. Nature’s sights, sounds, and smells help divert our attention away from daily worries and generate a calm sensation.
Not only does it help in stress reduction, but it also soothes anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and anger.
Nature has a great impact on our emotional health and mood. According to research, being in natural environments can make people feel happier, more joyful, and more satisfied with their lives as a whole.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial function in controlling mood and fostering a sense of well-being. Being in nature increases serotonin production.
Mycobacterium vaccae, a form of beneficial bacteria found in soil, may help release serotonin, a hormone associated with good moods.
According to several studies, people’s general mood, mental health, and level of life satisfaction can all be enhanced by simply catching a glance at nature outside their window or even looking at images of it.
Participating in ecotherapy usually includes activities that encourage physical movements, such as walking, hiking, gardening, running, and cycling. These activities not only help us in improving our mental well-being but our physical health as well.
Regular physical exercise can trigger the release of endorphins, which means that your body releases chemicals that make you feel good, leading to a reduction in stress and enhanced mood. It shows how being active in nature can enhance your ability to cope with challenges and increase your overall emotional strength.
Whether you’re walking through beautiful gardens, nurturing your plants, or simply exploring the outdoors with your pet, the combination of physical movement and nature’s soothing atmosphere works together to boost your mental well-being.
Overall, the beauty of engaging in physical activity in nature lies in its beneficial blend of exercise and nature.
Another remarkable benefit of ecotherapy is its capacity to foster meaningful social connections. When individuals come together to participate in activities like group hikes, community gardening, or environmental conservation projects, they share a common interest and purpose. This commonality serves as a foundation for forming connections and developing friendships.
The shared experiences and challenges of working together in nature create opportunities for mutual support and understanding, leading to the development of genuine relationships.
Moreover, the absence of digital distractions and the peacefulness of natural surroundings encourage more meaningful and present interactions. Additionally, ecotherapy settings often provide a relaxed and non-judgmental atmosphere, making it easier for individuals to open up and connect authentically.
These connections can serve as a source of emotional support during challenging times and contribute to an increased sense of belonging and well-being.
When you spend time in nature, you are more likely to use your senses to explore your surroundings and to be attentive to yourself, your surroundings, and everyone as a whole.
Calming sounds, such as birds tweeting or the rustle of leaves, can help you separate from traffic, workplace conflict, and other everyday pressures.
Turning your attention away from the landscape might also help you practice focusing on the present moment rather than mentally cycling through troubling ideas. This attentive connection with nature can provide a sense of grounding while cultivating a greater appreciation for the world around us.
Working and immersing yourself in nature, in any way possible, not only offers a refreshing escape from the demands of modern life but also presents a remarkable opportunity to enhance coping skills.
As urbanization and digital saturation continue to dominate modern living, reconnecting with nature through purposeful work is a transformative way to boost coping skills.
Working outside or with animals lets us experience nature “up close” and even learn new skills. According to one study, working with farm animals twice a week for 12 weeks improved patients’ coping skills and self-efficacy with persistent psychiatric symptoms.
Enhanced cognitive functioning is another remarkable benefit of ecotherapy. The natural environment has a profound impact on our cognitive abilities, contributing to improved focus, creativity, and mental clarity. When we immerse ourselves in nature, away from the distractions of screens and technology, our minds have the opportunity to recharge and think better.
Research published in the “Journal of Environmental Psychology” says that spending time in natural settings can boost attention spans and enhance cognitive performance.
The sounds of birds chirping, the gentle flow of water, or the smell of soil has a calming effect that helps reduce mental fatigue and increase our ability to concentrate and think.
Moreover, the visual richness of natural landscapes has been shown to stimulate our creative thinking. The colors, patterns, and textures of nature can inspire fresh ideas and innovative problem-solving approaches.
Nature has a powerful ability to heal. By utilizing the healing properties of the natural environment, ecotherapy provides a unique and comprehensive approach to fostering mental well-being.
Eco therapy offers a variety of health advantages, such as stress reduction, mood improvement, improved cognitive function, physical wellness, and many more.
We can feel the transformational impacts of ecotherapy when we immerse ourselves in nature while engaging in activities that activate our senses and create a more profound relationship with the natural world.
Remember that if you are thinking about trying ecotherapy or another type of therapy, you should first consult with a certified mental health professional to decide the best form of ecotherapy for your unique requirements.
If you are willing to get started with your mental health journey, then download our app and get started right away!