Have you ever heard of ecotherapy? Well, believe it or not, it is actually proven to be an effective form of therapy for mental health problems that has to do with cultivating a relationship with nature. According to an article published on the University of Minnesota’s website, just being in the outdoors, “or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear and stress and increases pleasant feelings”, such as relaxation. These emotional benefits have a direct connection to one’s physical wellbeing as well. The article continues by saying that the reduction of stress also leads to reduced blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the sythesis of stress hormones, as “what you are seeing, hearing, experiencing at any moment is changing not only your mood, but how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working”.
It is part of our inborn need to engage and feel connected with nature. From an evolutionary standpoint, nature is not only a source of all life, but has been the sustainer of human life for centuries. We as a species rely on nature for its resources, including water and crops for consumption, wood and stone for building, air for breathing, etc.
Taking everything aforementioned into account, I felt the need to share with you guys my experience with nature and the healing power it possesses. At the heart of my town, we have a valley with a trail that cuts through the center. However, I enjoy exploring off path. This lead me to discover my favorite spot to go to when I want to just sit for a while and decompress.
When I’m at this location, I feel peace and serenity wash over me. The sound of the rushing water puts me at ease and the gentle breeze brushing across the back of my neck is a pleasant, calming feeling. As I focus on my surroundings – all I can see, feel, hear, and touch – it draws me out of my anxiety ridden thoughts and my mind becomes clear. I love how nature arouses all of my senses and helps me feel more connected to the Earth.
Given how nature helps me to feel grounded and be more mindful of both my internal and external environment, I began to wholeheartedly believe in the effectiveness of ecotherapy. When I am immersed in nature, all my worries disappear, in turn significantly decreasing my levels of anxiety. Watching the shadows constantly change shape and seeing vibrantly beautiful colors all around me makes me happy, which lessons my symptoms of depression as well. Nature is truly captivating in all its beauty.
I couldn’t emphasize more that nature is such a great healer for the mind, body and spirit. I hope that after reading this blog post you will take the initiative to spend more time in nature, appreciate all it’s splendor and reap the benefits, even if it’s simply just taking a walk in a local park on a warm, sunny day. After all, summer is right around the corner!
For further reading on the topic of nature and it’s influence on the mind and body, visit this article posted on PsychiatryAdvisor. Within it, you will find some research findings of a study that measured how viewing scenes of nature affected people’s moods.
Moral of the story, be at one with nature!!
∼ Taylor ♥ xoxo