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Which do you prefer – the beach or the mountains? The best answer is both. Just get outside, and here is why. Nature therapy, also known as ecotherapy, is the idea that we should be in nature to reap the mental health benefits. Some studies have even shown how seeing nature through a window or in a photo can help us.
Nature therapy may be even more imperative for us to enjoy after all the last few years of chaos. The pandemic and the social isolation that came with it, took a toll on all of us. But it did have some positive upsides, and one of them was that many of us fell in love with nature again. Being deep in nature can really help, but so does your own backyard. You don’t have to go far to benefit from nature therapy, you really just have to get outside.
Let’s dig into why nature is so good for our mental health – and we’ll give you a couple ideas to get started with some outdoor time. Pick and choose or create your own activity. As long as you get outside, you’ll benefit from nature therapy in no time.
How Nature and Mental Health Intertwine
The whole idea of nature therapy is that we as humans are connected and impacted by the natural world. We can be impacted by more than just what we see in front of us, as sounds and smells can also impact the way we feel. Beyond that, we can find benefits in nature even if we can’t go outside.
In a study by Roger Ulrich, heart surgery patients in the ICU were able to reduce their anxiety and need for pain medication by viewing pictures depicting trees and water. Another researcher, Rachel Kaplan, found that office workers who had a view of nature from a window reported higher job and life satisfaction than those who did not have such a view.
There are countless other studies that show how nature has a positive impact on our lives. The addition of flowers and plants to a workplace can positively affect creativity, productivity, and flexible problem solving, while the presence of animals may reduce aggression and agitation among children and those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
A Couple Nature Therapy Activities You Can Do
In nature, our minds process a lot less information than normal, and they don’t wear themselves out by concentrating. Meaning, you can do a lot of deep thinking outside, but it’s not taxing like fully-engaged “work thinking.” It’s hard to explain, so just go outside. If you don’t know where to start, here are some easy nature therapy activities to get you started:
- Go for a simple walk or gentle jog in a nearby park.
- Take a bike ride on a trail or road.
- Go camping (and make some s’mores).
- Take a hike to a place with a view.
- Practice horticulture and go garden!
- Move your workout outside, if possible.
- Meditate or do yoga outdoors – namaste.
- Have a picnic in the park – bring a friend or go solo.
- Go for a swim in a local pool or nearby lake.
- Bring out the binoculars and go birdwatching.
There is no right or wrong way to do these activities. Spending time outdoors can satisfy inherent human needs for community, creativity, and revitalization in ways technology cannot. Overall, nature therapy aims to improve mental, emotional and physical wellbeing by leveraging the power of purposeful nature engagement.
So, how about it? Let’s go outside and get some fresh air.
What are you waiting for?
Half a Sorrow aims to promote better mental health for all. We want to promote lifestyles that make you feel good inside and out. That’s why we love nature therapy, aka ecotherapy, so much.
Reach out today to learn more about how we can make a difference. By working together, we have the power to create meaningful change in the suicide epidemic. Hope starts here.