The Power of Nature: Ecotherapy
Ecotherapy encompasses a range of therapeutic programs that focus on improving mental wellbeing through the use of outdoor activities in nature. It is supported by a large body of research that demonstrates how contact with nature can improve a range of mental health issues e.g. depression and anxiety, and can also help combat future periods of ill health.
Ecotherapy helps as it encourages you to become more grounded and gives you the space to reassess your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Through this alternate perspective you are able to become more relaxed and reduce feelings of anger, stress, anxiety and depression whilst also improving your general mood and self esteem.
If this is something you're interesting in doing in a formal way there are a range of groups and programs throughout the UK that use Ecotherapy. They all approach the method in different ways and can vary in how formal they are; some use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) methods within there programs; others focus on group conservation tasks whereas interacting with nature through working on farms. There are many examples of nature being successfully used to improve mental health. Animal Assisted Therapies (AAT) also come under the Ecotherapy umbrella and involve guided contact with animals such as dogs, guinea pigs and horses.
One of the best things about Ecotherapy though is that this is something you can take control of yourself and do on your own. If we take it down to it's simplest form, Ecotherapy at home can be as easy as going on long walks in the countryside, cycling through a forest or
even gardening. You can also bring some of nature inside your home with plants and fresh flowers!
If you are suffering with severe mental health issues, whilst you may find some benefit from adopting some Ecotherapy practices, there are more structured programs available to you which you are advised to access.