Ecotherapy: a dose of Mother Nature’s medicine

Ralph Waldo Emmerson once wrote, ‘the earth laughs in flowers.’ Nature, in its many forms, is a powerful force in human existence. It’s almost impossible not to feel good after a day spent strolling along an expansive coastline, swimming in a lake, feeling warm sand between your toes, gawking at towering waterfalls, frolicking in fields, hiking through lush rainforest, working away in a veggie garden, planting flowers, or looking out over rolling green hills.

What is it about natural settings that can calm the mind and refresh the mood? It seems there’s more to it than fresh air and greenery, and scientists have long been documenting the wellbeing benefits of time spent outdoors.

Enter Ecotherapy: a natural approach to wellbeing and relaxation. The internet is abuzz with talk of Ecotherapy, and its touted benefits. But what is it? Well, according to mental health charity Mind, ‘Ecotherapy is the name given to a wide range of treatment programmes, which aim to improve your mental and physical wellbeing through doing outdoor activities in nature. Connecting with nature in this way can have lots of positive health benefits.’ So, the term covers a wide variety of nature-oriented activities, and is open to personal interpretation. If you prefer herb potting to hiking, or fruit picking to surfing, there’s an Ecotherapy suitable for everyone.

The list of benefits for Ecotherapy is long and varies from source to source, but some of the key benefits are said to be:

  • Supporting mental wellbeing, and supporting people who may be at risk of developing mental health problems
  • Helping participants to get active, boosting their physical and mental health
  • Aids people who may be recovering from stress, or mental health problems
  • If you’re assisting with conservation or environmental projects, you’ll be making a positive difference to the local environment
  • If you’re taking part in a ‘green gym’ or outdoor exercising plan, you’ll be feeling fitter, healthier and likely be  getting a good old dose of vitamin D too
  • Ecotherapy through a local organisation or community garden is a great way to meet new people too

Ecotherapy is available to people all over the world, and can be accessed in your own backyard or at the local park. But, if you’d prefer to become part of an Ecotherapy group or organised activity, here’s a helpful list of places to practise Ecotherapy in London, from Mind.

Have you practised Ecotherapy? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below…


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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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