People are usually looking for trees and plants in the open spaces of the city for comfort and unwinding their minds. They are choosing nicely decorated places with a lot of greenery for dinner or a pleasant meeting with friends. They are buying plants for their homes to make them cozy, stylish, and create the feeling of Home.
What is Nature Therapy?
Nature Therapy or ecotherapy has arisen from the growing interest in the positive effect of nature on well being of people. It facilitates the idea that nature can aid humans in coping with various mental and physical issues through mindful reconnection with it. People are one of the puzzle pieces of the ecosystem and can benefit a lot through interaction with its components of a similar kind.
Biologist and author E.O. Wilson offered a concept – biophilia or love of nature – that states that humans over their evolution are strongly connected to nature or living organisms such as plants and animals.
Many medical systems from Ayurvedic to Chinese medicine have long been advocating for nature’s healing effects on human wellbeing.
In Japan, a mindful immersion into a forest named Forest Bathing was officially introduced by the government and is a part of the Health Preventive System. Doctors are even prescribing Forest Bathing for their patients as a means for improvement of mental and physical health for stressed and anxious city people.
People need mindful interaction with nature for their cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic development. Therefore there a lot of nature associated activities like green exercise, green views, horticultural therapy, wilderness therapy, body therapy through movement, art therapy, and animal-assisted therapy which have a positive and healing effect for the wellbeing of humans.
Healing Power of Nature
The list of research confirmed the benefits that nature has on health and wellbeing is impressive.
Here are a few examples of what Nature Therapy can do:
- Improves mental health by reducing depression, anxiety, and aggression. Being close to nature, taking mindful walks in forests, staying alert, and observing environment not only passing by with ever spinning cycle of thoughts heals mind and soul. One becomes calmer and rejuvenated. Fresh air, sunlight, greenery and blossoms, birds, wind in the leaves – everything is designed to inject some energy, optimism, and tranquility into people’s minds.
- Lowers blood pressure. It’s easier to relax and let go of physical and mental tensions by mindfully immersing in natural surroundings. E.g. letting an odor of soil after the rain or smell of cut grass remind you of long-forgotten moments of childhood and carrying your thoughts away by leaving you with light and serenity inside.
- Improves the ability to focus. You can come with unexpectedly good ideas after unwinding your head in nature and be less impulsive in decision making. Which leads to better solutions and happier you.
- Improves general health by positively affecting our physical condition. Walking, jogging, exercising, riding a bicycle is always better in the park, seaside or forest. You get to breathe the fresh air which cleanses our bodies from toxins and filters emotions and unpleasant experiences from our heads.
- Improves sleep. Spending time in nature, in natural light affects your inner clock and helps you improve your sleep routine – get asleep faster and have a deep and rejuvenating sleep.
- Boosts feelings of happiness, well-being, life satisfaction. Studies showed that simply being in the outdoors or just walking in a forest or park increases the feeling of happiness, kindness, satisfaction, and refreshment. One feels energized, optimistic, and have clearer thoughts after a journey to the world of nature.
- Leads to better eyesight. With one condition – you don’t walk in the forest with the screen before your eyes. Walking in the park or forest and gazing at the trees at different distances from you helps to train the muscles of the eyes. You also let your eyes rest from the artificial and bright lights of the screens and indoors and enjoy the palette of natural colors.
- Boosts immune system. With reduced anxiety and stress level, lower blood pressure, more fresh air, and natural light your body is stronger and more resistant to sicknesses and viruses.
Scientists identify universal positive emotions like joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. Most of them arise when one is spending time in the kingdom of nature. Which in turn stimulates intellectual, social and physical strength, sense of security and belonging.
The therapeutic power of nature is useful for all ages – studies show that children spending more time in nature are less anxious and more aware of themselves and their life choices. Adolescents taking their time to walk in the parks were able to cope with their emotions better. Adults spending time outdoors are oh better psychical and psychological health as well as are more empathic. Aged people having a possibility to immerse into walks into parks or other greenery rich spaces were also more positive and hopeful.
Prescriptions of Nature
Various studies were performed to find out how much time is enough for the positive effect of being outdoors could take place. But just making it a habit of going outside without minute count and making it a pleasant everyday activity to look for is greatly awarding and refreshing. If possible leave all clocks, headphones, and devices at home and immerse yourself into a free, unstructured, positive, motivating journey to be with yourself, with your loved ones or even with your colleagues. Use any chance possible to get into the fresh air, feel the warmth of the sun on your face, feel the breeze or even strong wind, and let him blow the stress and worries away.
Being more in the fresh air and sunlight one is inevitably granted with Vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin. It is important for our immune system, the strength of bones, and feeling energetic.
Try going barefoot – it may be really fun to feel the tickling grass or small rocks under your feet. It is a way of acupuncture since there a lot of nervous stimulation points on our foot. It also one the way to improve the immune system as your feet get used to be chilly and you endeavor colder weather conditions more easily without catching a cold. It is also very refreshing and relaxing to be barefoot for some time. More to that, the earth is covered with electrons that have a healing power to humans. The therapy of walking barefoot outdoors is called Earthing or grounding and is proved to improve the quality of sleep and aid in pain reduction.
Mother nature has one more interesting way to make us healthier and happier – Mycobacterium Vaccaeor or happiness bacteria which is found in the soil. This bacteria is proved to activate happiness and positivity in the brain, to improve the activity of the brain as well as to strengthen immune system by making us more resistant to infection. So building sandcastles or gardening is actually improving our wellbeing.
Let Nature into Your Everyday
Being in nature, observing, finding mindful ways to spend time outdoors, and enjoy the greenery, fresh air, sunlight, birds singing has a therapeutic impact on physical and mental wellbeing. People spending more time outdoors live longer with a better quality of life. They are naturally more active, emphatic, and energetic. Therefore they are healthier, more resilient to stress, are in better physical shape, uplifting mood and see things more positively.
Imagine if most of the people around you would be “nature affected” – we would live in a better world and feel more connected to our selves, to people around us and the inevitably essential part of us – the nature.