Thursday, January 2, 2020

Your Guide to Eco-Therapy at Home

Image by Valiphotos from Pixabay

Eco-therapy is also known as green therapy or nature therapy and is a relatively new field of psychology. It is based on the theory that people are connected to the natural environment and that investing in their relationship with nature can have a positive impact on our wellbeing. Eco-therapy is a general term for a variety of approaches to intervention and healing, which are based in nature. Some types of eco-therapy are delivered via a therapy group or under the guidance of a mental health professional, but there are several which can be undertaken by individuals at home. 


For example, in addition to the therapy itself, spending time in the sunlight, around trees, plants, and wildlife while breathing fresh air has been found to have a positive effect on mental and physical wellbeing and promotes creativity, positivity, productivity and calmness. In the majority of cases, eco-therapy takes place in outdoor environments to maximise the full benefits, but direct contact with nature is not always necessary. In fact, even photographs of nature or seeing nature through a window has been shown to have a positive impact on mood, wellbeing and health.


Here are some of the most common types of eco-therapy activities which many people find beneficial to both their physical and mental wellbeing which you can try at home. 


Meditation or exercise in a natural setting

Meditation is beneficial for physical and mental wellbeing in many ways, but when done in a natural setting, these benefits can be intensified. The fresh air and sunlight helps to clear the mind and heighten our senses, but we can also use the nature around us to inspire our thinking. For example, we can look at the nature around us and contemplate how it relates to us and our position in the world. Meditation can be done individually in a garden or a group in a place such as a park. 


Many people find water sources like lakes and waterfalls to be a source of great relaxation and rejuvenation. If you do not have access to one in your local area and you have enough space, you may want to create your own in your garden with lake filtration systems.

Being active outside, whether it’s walking, running, cycling or yoga can also help people who are struggling with stress, depression, anxiety or anger issues. 


Horticultural therapy

Horticultural therapy involves gardening activities such as planting, weeding, digging and pruning to promote mental health. Focused projects can provide excellent stimuli for people suffering from stress or recovering from substance addiction and, when done in groups, can reduce social isolation. This type of therapy gives people a sense of purpose and can improve self-esteem while also getting them outside and active. There is also an element of protecting the natural environment which can give people a renewed sense of motivation and hope.


Animal-assisted therapy

Interaction with animals has been shown to have a hugely beneficial impact on physical and mental wellbeing. Just petting or playing with a cat or dog (or any animal) can reduce stress and aggression and the bond between owner and pet can reduce feelings of isolation and give people a more structured routine and responsibilities. If you aren’t able to commit to having your own pet, consider getting involved at a local animal shelter or fostering animals waiting to be re-homed.


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