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Understanding Ecotherapy

Understanding Ecotherapy

 

Can digging in the dirt and soaking up sun rays improve your mental health and wellbeing? According to Ecotherapy, the answer is YES! Ecotherapy is an activity or program used to improve health by connecting with nature. It is also referred to as green exercise, nature therapy, green therapy, horticultural therapy, or “park prescriptions”. Throughout history humans have relied on nature to eat, tell time, and for many other aspects of survival. It makes sense that being outdoors has healing benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. Ecotherapy is confirmed by science, that nature is nurturing to the human soul.

Benefits of Ecotherapy

There are many positive effects that come from connecting with nature such as:

  • Increases Vitamin D
  • Lowers blood pressure and inflammation
  • Slows down heart rate and breathing
  • Increases energy levels
  • Decreases depression & anxiety symptoms
  • Improves mood
  • Lowers cortisol levels (stress hormone)
  • Provides a sense of connection and peace
  • Increases self-awareness

How you can practice Ecotherapy

Take a hike: Hiking builds strength, both mentally and physically, plus is a wonderful overall workout. Soak in the beauty, and be in awe of the vast mountains. Discovering and exploring new trails can be exciting and creates a sense of accomplishment. So, go take a hike!

Nature meditation: This type of meditation takes place in a natural setting, such as a park, creek, or your backyard. Sit and visualize nature cleansing you or take a moment to practice gratitude.  Some say there are benefits to “earthing”, which is putting your bare feet on the earth to soak in health benefits. I encourage you to kick off those shoes and dig your toes in the grass while you meditate.

Garden: Planting flowers or trees in your yard will not only make it look better, but you will feel better too! Dirt has lots of good bacteria and benefits when you play in it. Plus, you will get some vitamin D and movement in while making the yard more colorful!

Mindful nature walks: Leave your headphones at home and take a mindful walk in nature. Set an intention for the walk. Take slow steps as you take it all in. Listen to the sounds, feel the plants, and breathe in fresh air for at least twenty minutes.

Volunteer at a farm: Farming is a great way to connect with people, animals, and the earth all at the same time. Studies show working with animals has many therapeutic benefits. Plus, you will feel good about giving back to the community by volunteering. You might even get lucky and bring home some veggies or plants!

Bring nature inside: Don’t have much of a green thumb? Treat yourself to some pretty flowers every so often or a cute succulent to bring you joy. Succulents are a plant that requires little maintenance and water.

These are just a few ways to connect with nature and recharge your mind, body, and soul. I suggest regular ecotherapy activities, at least once or twice a week. Even better if you can do it with friends or family! I challenge you to disconnect the iPad and connect with nature, your health will thank you.