Ecotherapy: Types and Benefits

It is observed by many that spending time outdoors improves mood and promotes relaxation and calm(1)

What is Ecotherapy?

Ecotherapy, also known as nature’s therapy or green therapy, is an approach with an idea that people have a deep connection with their environment. It is an ecosystem service that nature provides and is based on the theories of ecopsychology.

Failing to nurture this connection with nature can take a toll on the wellbeing, particularly mental health.

What Are Different Types Of Ecotherapy?

Ecotherapy can be anything that involves or deepens your connection with nature. You can also involve yourself with nature by choosing to participate in formal approaches with a therapist’s guidance.

Some of the different types of Ecotherapy are:

Community Gardening Or Farming: Community gardening is a good way to grow your produce, build relationships, and spend more time outdoors. Some programs also teach basic farming tasks such as tending animals or crops.

Wilderness or Adventure Therapy: Camping and hiking in the wilderness with peers is an approach to mental health treatment that teaches coping techniques and therapeutic skills to teens and young adults.

Park Prescriptions: It is now frequently being recommended by healthcare providers and mental health professionals to visit a park or spend time in other outdoor activities. It is beneficial in improving mental health.

Forest Bathing: Staying in the forest more than just going for a walk encourages the use of five senses.

A study done in 2009 found that participants who spent 3 days in a forested area had elevated levels of natural cell killer activity that lasted up to 30 days after the trip.(2)

Animal-Assisted Therapy: Spending time with animals, such as petting them, playing with them, and even working with them in the outdoors, is another way to manage stress.

Outdoor Meditation And Yoga: Meditation and yoga are well-known for their various health benefits. They can prove to be more rewarding if practiced outside.

Benefits of Ecotherapy

There are numerous benefits of ecotherapy.

Improves Social Connection

Ecotherapy is often done in a group setting.

Community gardening can reduce loneliness, make you meet more people, and increase the feeling of community solidarity.

Hiking or taking nature walks in a group is loved by most. It helps you meet new people and you can get to know more of your interests in similar nature activity.

Motivation to Exercise

Exercise is known to have a positive impact on the physical and mental aspects of health.

Ecotherapy gets you out of the house. Simply enjoying fresh air can lift the mood and getting the sunshine can have a direct effect on depression and anxiety.(3)

Exercise outdoors would just add to the benefits of exercising and working out in a group would motivate you more to be on this routine.

Increases Mindfulness

When spending time outdoors with nature, you are more likely to use your senses to experience the surrounding.

The calming sound of the birds, greenery, softness of the grass, fresh breeze, and fragrance of the flowers, is in itself a stress buster.

This way you unintentionally build a mindfulness habit.

Improves Mental Health

Numerous researches explain the link between nature therapy and improved mental health.

A review of studies it was found that children living in rural areas have greater resilience to stress, improved concentration, and cognitive abilities, and higher self-worth.(4) This shows time spent outdoors strengthens their sense of self and promotes creativity.

Ecotherapy can be useful for those with post-traumatic stress. A 2007 review shared the potential benefits of ecotherapy for PTSD symptoms, especially in those who found following other treatment difficult.(5)

It is also seen that when in stress, the sound of nature helps the nervous system to recover faster.(6)

Gardening at home can enhance emotional well-being.(4)

Ecotherapy is a helpful treatment approach. But, more research is needed for nature-based therapies to join the rank of evidence-based therapy approaches such as cognitive behavior therapy and dialect behavior therapy.

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