As humans, we have the innate desire to connect with our natural environment. As society progresses with so-called “technological advances,” we become more and more detached from the natural world around us and the nature for mental health wellness that it provides. Sunlight becomes LED lights that mimic the sun, trees become house plants in tiny pots, and Alexa can deliver any nature sound we desire with one simple request.
As a society, we have been detaching ourselves from nature, and it is beginning to show in the rise of mental health issues, the obesity epidemic, and how society views the natural world around us. However, our connection with nature is so ingrained in us as humans it is part of how we describe objects by color and people by actions and behaviors.
Nature for Mental Health Wellness, also known as Ecotherapy, is an emerging therapy used for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research has shown that spending at least 30 minutes outside has positive effects on an individual’s physical, emotional, and psychological health. Nature for Mental Health Wellness therapies also promote finding harmony and balance to achieve better mental and physical health.
Accessible for All Abilities
Nature for Mental Health Wellness therapies are as diverse as the populations that they serve. People with physical disabilities can often easily access many green spaces, parks, and nature trails. Most trails in cities are paved and allow access for everyone. Being outside does not require any strenuous physical requirements. People can sit under a tree and listen to the birds sing and experience self-prescribed nature therapy. These therapeutic experiences can be as strenuous as hiking to the top of a mountain range in Alaska or as laid back as sitting and watching the river flow in Savannah.
Nature Therapy Includes More Than You Think
Being in nature encompasses more than walking outside and hikes in a forest. You can engage in nature therapy simply by sitting on your front porch. However, there is far more to do than just sitting outside. For example, you can try your hand at farming. You do not have to own 40 acres and know how to drive a tractor to farm. Even if you have only an acre or two you may be able to raise miniature goats and chickens. If you live close to a rural area, there may be somewhere you can volunteer to help. Many cities allow individuals to raise chickens in their back yards. Some urban communities provide access to rooftop or community gardens where you can grow your own produce.
Connect with nature
Outdoor yoga or meditation also provide useful ways to connect with nature and cope with mental health stressors. Being outside can enhance the benefits you are already receiving from your practice. If you are lucky, you may be able to find a free class that is happening at a local park. If you prefer to be alone when you practice, find a grassy spot wherever your spirit calls you. Turn your focus inward once you are on your mat and tune into yourself while tuning out anything outside. The more you practice, the calmer you will be, and the more time you will be able to spend focusing on the things that help you relax.
After a long winter, exercising outside may help you feel more energized and see an overall improved mood. If you already are a regular at the gym you may find inspiration in running outside or taking a bike for a spin on a local trail. Remember how excited you got when you could ride your bike with your friends after school or play a ball game? As the days get longer in the spring and summer you may find it the perfect time to get outside and play.
Exercise doesn’t have to be gyms classes and weight machines. Call your friends, set a time, and find a new sport to enjoy. You may surprise yourself with how much fun you have while improving your mental health at the same time.
Create Nature Inside
Do you have a physical disability or allergies that prevent you from getting outside and enjoying the benefits of nature? There are ways for you to bring the outside indoors. Set the room’s ambiance by playing nature sounds on media platforms like YouTube or iHeartRadio. Open your shades or curtains and let the natural light flow into your space. If that is not possible, you can create lighting that promotes a calming environment. Bring nature into your living space with the use of houseplants or a container garden. With just a few simple changes, you will have the relaxing, natural environment of the great outdoors in your own home.