There’s not much we can do about where we live, right? It’s not like we can pack our bags and move on demand. As we concretise the world bit by bit, we’re losing touch with nature. Every factor in our immediate surroundings makes a difference to our mental and physical wellbeing. From the air we breathe to the food we eat and where we live. After all, all of us our part of nature too, even if seem to have control of it.
With the growing rate of mental health issues and the numerous physical health problems we face, when doctors suggest nature may be good for us, their observation isn’t unfounded. Research by the UN shows that 55% of the world’s population lives in urbanised setups, and this figure will grow to about 68% by 2050. Therefore, the only way to be healthy is to change our lifestyles according to our surroundings. Perhaps this is why pollution control in cities is of the utmost importance. While we cannot change the world we do have the ability to help ourselves.
What is Ecotherapy?
Ecotherapy applies to treatment regimens that prescribe nature as a medicine, for our physical and mental wellbeing. While you may come across a variety of terminology like ‘green exercise’, ‘green care’, etc. that are used synonymously with Ecotherapy, note they may refer to a type of treatment programme and not always to Ecotherapy as such.
Ecotherapy can be conducted both formally and informally. In urban settings these programmes may take place in parks, woodlands, etc. by trained professionals. You may also work with a therapist who conducts Ecotherapy, through a set programme under CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You may also choose to practice Ecotherapy on your own.
Before enlisting on a programme, or making investment in Ecotherapy, talk to a trained professional, or a doctor, to get you on the right track and also what programmes and options you are best suited to and where you may find the best results. Familiarise yourself with the concept before jumping straight into it, even if it can do wonders for you.
How can Ecotherapy help you?
In 2019, a study in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research found that 20 minutes spent in a park can improve wellbeing. American author Richard Louv mentioned that people who live in ‘hi-tech’ societies often suffer from, ‘nature deficit disorder’. Just to give you a sense of what Ecotherapy tackles, we’ve given you a list below:
- Mental health: Ecotherapy helps your mood as proven by research. Spending time with nature can have a soothing effect on your brain, helping to reduce anxiety, stress, depression and your emotional resilience.
- Physical health: This form of therapy is also particularly good for your physical health as it promotes exercise, takes you to sunlight and fresh air, rather than sitting in one place or minimal physical activity you do while working or staying indoors. It also helps production of hormones essential for physical upkeep of your body.
- Opportunities to socialise: Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, nature will help you interact with your surroundings and new people while enjoying an activity whether its simple gardening or a stroll. It also reduces isolation and loneliness and increases the sense of belonging.
- Confidence and self-esteem: Getting out doing new activities, helps build confidence in a person. It also provides you a sense of motivation and drive which will reflect in your daily life.
- Mindfulness: Establishing a connection with nature can be calming and meditative. This gives you an opportunity to connect with yourself and innermost thoughts. It helps you balance your needs and the needs of your surroundings.
Ecotherapy Programmes to Enlist In:
There are numerous programmes designed according to specific needs and the varying interests of those undertaking it. There is surely a programme suited to you for which you need to do a bit of scoping and searching to come across as these may vary according to countries and contexts:
- Adventure Therapy: This is for those who prefer a bit of adrenaline, involving strenuous exercise mostly done in groups. In India it could include— rock-climbing, treks, rafting, mountain climbing. Pick your choice!
- Animal-assisted Therapy: An example would be a puppy cafe. Bonding with animals is a great way to connect with nature and can be very calming.
- Green Exercise Therapy: Have you seen those outdoor gyms in the local park you drive by every day? Those exercise machines are purposely installed there for your use. Instead of spending a large amount of money on gym subscriptions, take your fitness routine outside.
- Care Farming: This would mean enlisting in a programme where you go to the countryside and spend a little time at a farm and get a taste of growing your own produce for a short amount of time. This could be great fun for city dwellers.
- Formal Ecotherapy: These are programmes usually conducted by trained therapists with structure designed for you to establish a connection with nature, and involves CBT and talk therapy at times.
Ecotherapy on My Own:
If you’d like to do something of your own and make Ecotherapy more personal, you can do that too:
- Nature in your home: Start some gardening, it doesn’t require much effort. A few potted plants for your windowsill can also elevate home decoration. Get in touch with the view on your balcony, spend some time listening to the natural sounds.
- Spending time with animals: Owning a pet can be a good start but can mean a lot of commitment, responsibility and investment, so keep a bird feeder or make one, take walks, visit local farms or dog shelters.
- Outdoor activities: Get outside on a free weekend, take a walk around your park when you have time. Perhaps do some Yoga in the park or join a walking group.
- Engaging with the environment: When you participate in doing something for the environment in your local community you are automatically putting yourself in touch with nature. So maybe you could consider this, you will be helping yourself and society.
With our modern needs even our treatments are becoming modernised. We are slowly growing farther and farther apart with the environment, which is neither sustainable for us or the future. If our well-being is taken care of only then can we focus on the wellbeing of those around us. MBS understands this, which is why we think about your holistic needs for overall well-being.