Using nature and the outdoors, in a therapeutic context, to improve mental wellbeing is known as Ecotherapy. It has been shown that there are many positive health benefits from connecting with nature.
For city dwellers like me it can be hard to get close to nature, especially in Winter.
But it has been proven that spending time in nature is beneficial for our mood. Now that Spring is coming it’s an ideal time to find out what we’ve been missing by exploring the Great Outdoors.
Ecotherapy can improve your mood and so help to manage a mental health problem. Or it can prevent further relapses, such as episodes of depression.
Ecotherapy can take place in the countryside, on farms or public land, or in gardens or parks in the town. It often involves activity such as gardening. It could either be formally organised or quite independent.
Something as simple as a walk in the woods can have a really positive effect on the mind. As well as people reporting improvement in the way they feel, levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to decrease with a little outdoor exercise.
If you can’t manage to get outside, you can still benefit from bringing the outdoors in. Perhaps you could try to work beside a window, with an expanse of sky to look at, and you will feel more connected to nature.
You may be able to grow flowers or a few vegetables in a window box or plant pots if you don’t have access to a garden. Even a ten minute daily walk in a park can start a shift and lead to an increased sense of wellness.
The benefits of being active outdoors have been known to many and are nothing new. But they are now being formally recognised by the scientific and therapeutic communities. With a few simple self help measures you can make a significant improvement to your sense of pleasure and well being.