Have you ever felt stressed at work, left your office for a walk outside and felt better?
Or felt a bit blue and had your energy restored by a sit in the sun and some fresh air? Or perhaps you find it noticeably easier to exercise outside or felt your stress level decrease when you stop and smell the flowers? Without you knowing it, you have been participating in ecotherapy.
Nature or ecotherapy, is a therapeutic practice that focuses on the belief that time spent in nature can have a positive impact on both the body and the mind. Nature has long been known to have calming effects on the mind. The beauty and serenity of nature create a sense of peace that you usually won’t be able to find in busy urban environments.
Ecotherapy, or nature therapy, has ancient roots in indigenous people’s knowledge of the healing powers of nature and practices of honouring the Earth. Its modern roots are in the interface of ecology, environmental activism and psychology.
Ecotherapy offers simple yet powerful techniques that can easily fit into your daily routine to help lift your mood and boost your energy. Ecotherapists believe that receiving an outdoor ecotherapy session in a beautiful setting helps you access a calm, well-resourced state of being, which can allow for deeper healing than indoor psychotherapy. They agree that being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings, and that exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
In addition, nature helps us cope with pain, as because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort. Furthermore, time in nature or viewing nature scenes increases our ability to pay attention, providing a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks.
As we have become increasingly disconnected from nature by our modern lifestyle, it is said that to get back to basics, we have to ground ourselves and reconnect to its natural state. One of the main types of ecotherpay is Grounding - direct physical contact with the earth. Pioneered by Clint Ober, grounding stipulates that connecting to the Earth’s natural energy, trough direct skin contact, such as walking barefoot, on grass, sand, dirt or rock can diminish chronic pain, fatigue and other ailments that plague so many people today. Getting outside and walking barefoot has been shown to help regulate the nervous system, strengthen immunity and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Being outdoors is fun, but even more importantly, it’s good for the brain, body, and soul. So get outta bed, lose the shoes, and get up close and personal with the one individual you don’t have to socially distance - Mother Nature.