Ecotherapy is a new buzz word that brings together nature and mental health therapy. Ecotherapy can be undertaken with specially trained therapists or you can try engage in nature therapy without any help. It is a proven fact that taking part in outdoor activities amongst nature can really help improve mental wellbeing.
There are many different elements to ecotherapy. For instance, you can simply take frequent walks in the countryside, allowing the surroundings of your walk to calm and relax you. This is a quick and very affective way of calming the mind from anxious thoughts.
As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I find a quick walk among nature really helps soothes my troubled mind. I practice mindfulness when I am out walking, so I take in every tiny detail I see on my walk. By stopping to concentrate on every flower, leaf, insect and bird, I find that this reduces my stress levels. Being mindful of everything I see helps my mind slow down and brings a calmness to my life.
The colour green is such a calming colour and is known to have a therapeutic effect, bringing balance, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Therefore, it is no coincidence that our natural world is dominated by this soothing and tranquil colour. Walking in the countryside has taken on a whole new meaning to me since the country was taken over by the coronavirus.
The crisis has affected so many people and there has been a dramatic increase in mental health issues for many people. I have found that my mental health has become increasingly fragile over the last few months and I have had to dig deep to try and work through my issues.
I have to say, without any hesitation that I have found great comfort in my daily permissible walks while we have been on lockdown here in the UK. Walking through lush fields, listening to the busy insects and cheery birds has lifted my spirits like nothing else. The joy of observing lambs playing without restriction and watching clouds float across the sky has calmed my tired mind and racing thoughts.
I have come to rely on nature to give me the peace of mind that I desperately seek, particularly during lockdown. I sit for hours in an isolated field with only my dog George for company, listening to birds singing, oblivious to the crisis that surrounds our world.
So how else can Ecotherapy help you in your daily life? Well, believe it or not, I have taken up gardening.
Growing vegetables, to be more precise. I started at the beginning of lockdown and I have become engrossed in my quest to grow edible vegetables from tiny seeds. I cannot believe my obsession with this simple activity that is already so popular in the UK.
Every morning I race downstairs to check on my plants, eager to see some overnight growth. I even wish them a ‘good morning’ as I check their progress. Yes! I really do talk to my plants.
There is just something so comforting about watching the growth of something that started from a tiny seed, helped along by my caring and nurturing hands.
Helping something grow makes me feel useful and wanted and dare I say it? Successful. ‘I did that’ I say to myself every morning, when I notice more young shoots have emerged. I wonder if gardening fills me with so much joy because it gives me a chance to nurture once again.
My children are all adults now and have left home and I miss having them to care for. Caring for my seedlings gives me back a feeling of helping something develop into something more wonderful, much like raising children, I guess.
During these difficult times we are living in right now, it is always useful and helpful to have something positive to concentrate on. Walking and caring for nature is an easy and accessible way to help improve our own mental health and should always be encouraged.
Ecotherapy is wonderful for all ages and abilities as it doesn’t rely on physical strength or previous training. Moving forward I believe there is much to be learnt from the wonderful power of the natural world. Embracing the outdoors can only have a positive affect on us, so if you are feeling the stresses of life right now, why not head outside and see how much nature can do for you.