Life can come at us fast, especially if we are struggling with substance abuse. It can be easy to get caught up in the everyday routines that cause us stress. Various types of therapy can help us cope with and overcome our struggles, but one type of therapy we may be overlooking is ecotherapy.
Benefits of Ecotherapy
What is ecotherapy, and how can it help? Ecotherapy, or nature therapy, is a therapeutic approach that involves the beneficial aspects of being in nature. This can mean different things for different people.
For example, some people can improve their mental and physical health by regularly walking through nature, and others who may have physical limitations can simply sit and take in the scenery. Any way that we as individuals experience ecotherapy, it can provide us with a surprising number of health benefits. These benefits can be psychological, social, and physical.
Ecotherapy can positively impact us psychologically, which leads to better mental health. We can build healthy social circles with other people who share the love of being outdoors and enjoying the weather or participating in certain outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, gardening, or birdwatching.
Since outdoor activities often include sunshine, exercise, and fresh air, regular participation in ecotherapy can lead to a healthier physical body, which further improves our mental health.
The Different Types of Ecotherapy
There are various activities we can engage in to participate in ecotherapy.
Forest bathing is accessible to those who live near forests and those who can travel to them. It is a simple process that can produce long-lasting positive results.
How does forest bathing work? Once we arrive at a safe and beautiful area, we can lie on a blanket, sit on a foldable chair, or position ourselves in any way that we find comfortable and relaxing. Then we can take in the fresh air, feel the breeze on our skin, and smell the layers of nature around us.
By focusing on our breathing and our senses in forest bathing, we can put ourselves in a more relaxed state. When we regularly practice this relaxation, we can find it easier to access that feeling when we feel stressed at other times in our lives.
Grounding involves consciously experiencing the direct contact between our skin and the earth. Most commonly, people will practice grounding by walking barefoot or cradling the earth’s soil in their hands.
What is the point of practicing grounding? It can relax us, connect us to the earth, and provide us with other health benefits. One of those benefits is reduced inflammation. Since inflammation is involved in many types of chronic pain, reducing inflammation can reduce pain. Moreover, when we feel better physically, we can feel better mentally.
By practicing grounding, we can also shift how we react to stress and lower our negative reactions by centering ourselves with the nature around us. Our sleep cycles can also be improved through grounding, as being in the sun and getting fresh air can reset our body clocks to a more natural rhythm. Grounding can also be a spiritual experience that leaves people feeling rejuvenated and level-headed.
Disconnecting From the Digital World
We are in an age in which it is almost impossible to avoid social media platforms, streaming services, and the constant influence of the internet. Though these can be great outlets to express ourselves and find the information we are looking for, they may not always be good for our mental health. We can get lost when comparing ourselves to others online and create unrealistic expectations for ourselves, which can send our mental health into a downward spiral.
Ecotherapy can help us disconnect from the virtual world and reconnect with the natural world around us. We can regain or develop the understanding that we are all unique, we all have great things to offer the world, and no one is perfect. When we spend time in nature, we can awaken our senses that may have been dulled through our busy week indoors.
The Power of Nature’s Healing
Before technological advancements, many people turned to nature to entertain and heal themselves. Nature still holds this power today. We may underestimate the significance of feeling the sun on our skin or the grass between our toes.
Nature can provide a natural and holistic approach to the healing we need. Just spending time outside on a bench listening to the birds sing, the leaves rustling in the wind, or tree branches swaying can bring us inner peace.
There are many ways that we can heal from our past traumas while in recovery. Ecotherapy offers us the flexibility to make our own rules while being outdoors. Nature is open to interpretation; how we experience it depends on who we are and how we see the world.
Just as we all see different shapes in the clouds, someone may find the leaves of a tree orange when someone else sees them as more yellow. It doesn’t matter how we embrace the earth around us, as long as we can appreciate the beauty and how it can help us heal.
With how busy our schedules can get and how many ways we have to entertain ourselves indoors, many people forget there is a vast array of nature all around us. We also often overlook how nature harbors incredible healing power for our minds, bodies, and souls. Ecotherapy or nature therapy can offer different approaches to restoring our mental and physical health. Forest bathing and grounding are some of the more popular ways to practice ecotherapy, but consciously engaging in any outdoor activity can count. Experiencing the sun on our skin can help us feel reenergized, and appreciating the wind in our hair can bring us to a calmer state of mind. There are many things to see, smell, and feel during ecotherapy, and we can all benefit from going outside and spending some time with ourselves and nature. To learn more, call 449 Recovery at (949) 435-7449.