Ecotherapy For Mental Health
Let’s talk about ecotherapy what it is and whether it can help your mental health.
Ecotherapy is also known as green therapy or nature therapy and is basically doing an activity outdoors or in nature.
It’s often led by a qualified professional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it on your own as well.
Examples Of Ecotherapy
I’m pretty sure when COVID hit and gyms closed, a lot of us ended up accidentally or deliberately trying it during lockdown anyway.
Examples include working or doing a project in nature, going on a walk or a hike or a bike ride outside to experience nature, doing your workout outdoors.
And to be honest, it’s a very broad definition and it can encompass almost any activity as long as there’s that element of being in nature as part of it.
Benefits Of Ecotherapy
The benefits are:
- you’re out in fresh air
- it’s a different setting
- there are fewer distractions and
- less, if not, absolutely zero screen time
- being able to connect with others
- getting into a different environment entirely.
Some studies have shown it can also help boost your mood, relieve stress, increase your mindfulness, and depending on where you go, it may also be able to help reduce your exposure to noise and sound pollution.
Some Studies On Ecotherapy
There haven’t been any large scale clinical-level trials on ecotherapy and how it can impact mental health but there have been a few small-scale ones.
- A 2018 review showed that children spending more time in nature are more resilient to stress, have a higher sense of self-worth, have a greater ability to concentrate, and have a greater sense of self.
- A 2017 review showed that it can help alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Some 2019 research showed that outdoor gardening helped patients at a psychiatric hospital improve mood, feel calmer and have a deeper understanding of their own mental health.
Some Ecotherapy Ideas
While in most cases ecotherapy is guided by a professional, you absolutely can and should include time outdoors or in nature as part of your mental health and wellness routine.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Going for a long walk or hike. If you can go barefoot, even better. That feeling of the skin on the soles of your feet making contact with the earth is something we don’t allow ourselves enough of.
- Working out or training outdoors – this can be an intense workout, meditation, or yoga.
- Sunbathing can probably fall under the same category. Just bear in mind that there are safety precautions to take around direct sun exposure.
- Even if not traditional sunbathing, just allowing yourself to pause for a few minutes outside and allow the sun’s rays to soak in, and feel the breeze on your skin – don’t underestimate the impact that can have.
- If you enjoy barbecuing or cooking outdoors, that can definitely form part of your exposure to nature.
And then there was this really great TikTok trend I saw a couple of years ago where when it’s raining really heavily outside, go outside, lie down in the rain and let yourself get drenched.
Ecotherapy And My Mental Health
From my own personal perspective, especially since everything’s been so up and down with COVID, I started walking outdoors a lot more when gyms closed and lockdowns started.
And I know if I look back at how much difference it’s made to my mental wellbeing overall, throughout that time, I can’t really put it into words just how big of a positive impact it’s had on me.
It’s become a critical part of my day.
It’s become a critical part of my fitness.
I’ll usually plan the rest of my workouts and the rest of my training week around when I can go for my long walks.
So it’s had a huge impact on me.
Especially if you’re spending time cooped up indoors, it might be worth trying to spend a little bit of time outside. Regardless of the weather doing something active or just being able to connect to nature that little bit.