Eco-therapy is a natural therapy that encourages people to spend more time outdoors – particularly in natural environments to boost mental wellbeing. As a philosophy, it’s nothing new – after all, in the past doctors regularly recommended that recuperating patients should spend time at the seaside to hasten their recovery.
Today, psychologists are recommending eco-therapy as a useful treatment for depression, stress, anxiety and other mental illnesses. And most of us would agree that our moods are improved by spending time outside rather than lounging in front of the TV or sitting in an office environment.
But why is the great outdoors so good for our mental wellbeing? Well scientists believe that our affinity with nature is down to our evolutionary history. Thousands of years ago humans would have spent most of their time in natural environments rather than the man-made environments we inhabit today.
In addition research has shown that enjoying nature is calming and restorative. In one study, participants were shown images of nature and after just a few minutes blood pressure, brain activity and stress hormones were all shown to decrease whilst mood improved.
So whether you live in the countryside or the city, try and make time each day to enjoy the great outdoors. Here are some ideas:
- Ditch public transport and walk or cycle to work instead
- If you don’t have a garden, find out if there are any local community gardening projects that you could become involved in
- Consider volunteering with a local environmental charity or nature group
- Swap your city break for a camping holiday
- Don’t wait for a sunny day – even if it is wet and windy, you can still enjoy nature – just pop on your waterproofs and head off
For more information about eco-therapy, visit: www.ecotherapy.org.uk