nature therapy
Posted in: Healing and Wellness, Healthy Living

5 Reasons Nature Therapy Will Make You Want to Get Outside

Find out how nature therapy could be the best holistic approach to good mental health and overall wellness and learn how it can help you.
nature therapy

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Have you tried nature healing therapy? You probably have without even realizing it! Studies have shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and improve mood and overall mental health. So if you’re looking for ways to treat yourself right, try incorporating these five therapeutic benefits of nature into your life today!

5 Reasons Nature Therapy Will Make You Want to Get Outside
nature therapy

Is nature therapy a thing?

We all know the benefits of spending time in nature, but nature therapy goes beyond that.

Alternatively called ecotherapy, nature based therapy involves using nature to heal and grow.

Although it promotes good mental health, it is equally beneficial for our physical well-being, which impacts the former.

This article looks at the various benefits of being in nature, and the different forms of nature therapy available, for you to make an informed choice to incorporate nature in your wellness, self-care, and natural therapy practices.

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The Problems We Face as Modern Humans

Over the last 6-7 million years of human existence, less than 0.03% of that time was spent in a modern setting with soft furnishings and fluorescent lighting.

We have removed ourselves from nature in a way our bodies have not yet adapted.

Almost everyone on the planet today spends their lives in unnatural surroundings, and this imbalance results in health problems and general unwellness.

Nature therapy is now considered a treatment to manage stress and health decline. Healthy living depends on our interactions with nature.

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How does nature therapy work?

Nature-based therapies connect people with nature through diverse experiences which promote healing.

Natural therapies like ecotherapy, nature, and green therapy refer to all kinds of purposeful activities involving the great outdoors.

Practice nature therapy alone or with other treatments. The benefits of connecting to nature are endless.

Tell me the difference between ecotherapy and nature.

Nature and ecotherapy have an integral relationship with the well-being of humans, and it is vital to nurture nature’s relationship with our health.

Ecotherapy is using nature as a therapy to heal the mind, body, and spirit. In a natural environment, health and well-being improve — and that is backed by research and data!

What does an Ecotherapist do?

Ecotherapists, also known as green or nature therapists, use the natural world to improve mental, physical, and emotional health.

This practice combines activities like hiking, gardening, or even just spending time in parks or other natural areas with a healing mindset. Ecotherapy can also involve meditation and mindfulness practices.

How can nature help?

Green therapy promotes mental health by relaxing the brain and eliminating stress hormones.

We spend less time indoors than we do today. In a report from the National Behavioral Research Council in 2005, 92.3% of the population preferred indoor activities to outdoor activities.

Natures Therapy: Did you know that being in nature results in decreased health care costs, long healing periods from physical ills and mental illnesses, and a reduced sense of well-being?

The use of nature therapy has shown that it helps people with various kinds of symptoms. Rather than focusing on problems or symptoms, ecotherapy connects the person to the environment.

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5 Benefits of Nature Therapy

Some of the most significant benefits of being in nature are as follows:

1. Happiness, Positivity, and Well-being

Extensive research over the years has shown that one of the best ways to boost happiness, positive thinking, and well-being is to spend quality time in nature.

Studies have illustrated that forest bathing provides multiple benefits, including increasing happiness, well-being, and positivity and promoting constructive social interactions [1, 2, 6].

Moreover, since spending time in nature has proven physical and mental health benefits, it is bound to elevate our sense of well-being and happiness.

“I swear by my Altra hiking shoes! They are amazing. I like that they have a wide toe base. I got mine at REI, and my daughter’s on Amazon.” – Tara

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2. Improved Mental Health

Nature therapy has multiple benefits to offer when it comes to mental health.

It helps reduce stress and promotes healthy and restful sleep, which are crucial for good mental health. In addition, exposure to green spaces can help reduce and manage depression, anxiety, and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [1, 3, 5-7].

Natura therapy can help regulate our mood, promote relaxation, and enhance focus and attention [1-7].

Similarly, nature therapy reduces and manages anger, hostility, and other feelings often associated with stress.

Thus, the benefits of nature therapy in promoting and maintaining good mental health are undeniable.

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3. Nature Boosts Immunity

Mindfulness and meditation are often revered for their mental health and cognitive benefits.

Although they can be practiced anywhere, we often see the benefits of taking as little as 5 minutes to ourselves, sitting outside, or taking a short walk.

Spending time in nature, especially in the absence of distractions, is a mindful and meditative activity on its own and, thus, offers numerous cognitive benefits.

4. Nature Lowers Stress Levels

Since nature therapy promotes good sleep and reduces stress, it can positively influence our cognitive abilities, which are significantly associated with sleep and stress levels.

5. Nature Improves Focus

Exposure to green spaces has improved cognitive abilities, especially working memory and cognitive flexibility [4, 7]. Nature therapy also helps improve focus, attention, and short-term memory span [3, 4, 7, 8].

Apart from these benefits, nature therapy can be beneficial in managing dementia, mood disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), given its cognitive and mental health benefits.

nature therapy

Different Forms of Nature Therapy

Now that we have looked at the numerous benefits of being outdoors, let’s look at how we can incorporate nature therapy into our lives and daily wellness practices.

Green Therapy

Green therapy refers to the healing practices associated with greenery and mainly involves spending time in green spaces.

Blue Therapy

Blue therapy involves healing practices associated with aquatic environments, preferably natural ones, like lakes, rivers, and oceans.

Nature therapy includes multiple approaches and techniques. Some of the most prevalent types of nature therapy are listed below.

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Therapeutic Farming

Therapeutic farming usually includes farming activities, like growing crops or tending to farm animals. It is common to use animals as therapy, because studies have shown that people with pets tend to live longer, happier lives!

Join communal or commercial farms, or start your own if you wish to learn organic agriculture and raising your own meat. Creating sustainable nutrition for you and your family is another amazing benefit of learning how to farm.

Therapeutic Horticulture

Horticulture therapy includes gardening and growing plants that are not food crops, though they may also include growing herbs. You could even plant trees!

Adventure Therapy

Most people wait until vacations to have fun! Adventure therapy includes adventure-based activities in nature, performed individually or as part of a group, such as rafting, zip-lining, and rock climbing.

Look for nearby kayak rentals, and get outside!

Wilderness Therapy

Spending time in the wilderness includes activities like hiking and camping. You don’t need a crew to enjoy a nice hike or overnight camping trip.

Solo hikers are pretty common and claim that a long-distance trip can be life-changing. For more inspiration, watch Dixie, share her solo hiking experiences on her Youtube channel Homemade Wanderlust.

nature therapies

Nature Therapy Group Treatment Camps

Although not specifically geared toward adolescents, several program options assist adolescents and young adults.

Those dealing with various challenges ranging from adjustment disorders to behavioral and emotional issues, addiction, anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and anger problems benefit significantly from wilderness therapy.

Forest Therapy

Popularly known as forest bathing, this technique involves practicing mindfulness and using all our senses to absorb and feel the environment in a forest.

It can involve walking around a forest or simply sitting and experiencing nature mindfully.

Meditation in Nature

Meditation is practiced to quiet your thoughts and relax the mind and body.

Nature meditation is highly therapeutic. Sitting in a garden, walking a trail, and mindfully grounding yourself is a simple way to experience nature-based healing.

Outdoor Activities

Outdoor activities may include exercise or creative or fun activities like practicing arts and crafts in nature, playing games, or having a picnic.

Nature Arts & Crafts

Natural arts are a therapeutic method of creating art projects with natural materials through writing, painting, journaling, and photography.

This ecotherapeutic approach integrates well into talk therapy or hospital settings, usually assigned to work assignments or sessions.

nature therapy

How does it work in practice?

In general, ecotherapy refers to any medical care performed under the supervision of a qualified professional involving structured activities connected to nature.

Ecotherapy doesn’t only focus on idyllic rural areas but can be practiced in rural and urban surroundings like local forests or parks.

The simple act of going outside and connecting with nature provides evidence-based effects to mental health and physical well-being. According to a recent study, outdoor therapy can improve behavioral issues in teens (5).

Combining nature with mental health therapy is powerful.

How to Find an Ecotherapist?

Practitioners of ecotherapy are becoming more available now that research has shown the positive benefits of nature. 

So it’s becoming increasingly easy to find a professional ecotherapist

Find a therapist online, and mention ecotherapy to your doctor or counselor. Going outdoors may be what you are missing in your wellness journey.

References and Further Reading

  1. Berman, M. G., Kross, E., Krpan, K. M., Askren, M. K., Burson, A., Deldin, P. J., . . . Jonides, J. (2012). Interacting with nature improves cognition and affect for individuals with depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 140(3), 300–305.
  2. Bratman, G. N., Daily, G. C., Levy, B. J., & Gross, J. J. (2015). The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition. Landscape and Urban Planning, 138, 41–50.
  3. Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., & Daily, G. C. (2012). The impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1249(1), 118–136.
  4. Evans, S. C., Barrett, J., Mapes, N., Hennell, J., Atkinson, T., Bray, J., . . . Russell, C. (2019). Connections with nature for people living with dementia. Working With Older People, 23(3), 142–151.
  5. Gabrielsen, L. E., & Harper, N. J. (2017). The role of wilderness therapy for adolescents in the face of global trends of urbanization and technification. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 1–13.
  6. Schertz, K. E., & Berman, M. G. (2019). Understanding Nature and Its Cognitive Benefits. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28(5), 496–502.
  7. Shosha, M. (2021). Forest Bathing Therapy: The Healing Power of Nature. International Journal of Psychiatry Research, 4(4).
  8. Song, C., Ikei, H., & Miyazaki, Y. (2016). Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy: A Review of the Research in Japan. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(8), 781.

Are you a professional or do you want to be? Learn how to become trained in ecotherapy.

This post was all about how nature therapy can help you live a healthier life.

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