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Does Nature Really Benefit Your Mental Health?

May 25, 2016 08:50 AM EDT
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Distressed individuals tend to turn to nature with camping trips and vacations in places where there are plenty of fresh air and greeneries. This make sense, as recent studies suggest that nature can affect one's well-being through what they call 'Ecotherapy'.

Ecotherapy focuses on the mental and even physical well-being of individuals by exposing them to outdoor activities involving nature. According to Mind.org, ecotherapy can benefit the mental health of individuals in various ways. For one, nature can ward off signs of depression.  The report also states that today, there are various ways to incorporate nature in treating mental conditions. There are many types of ecotherapy such as adventure therapy, animal assisted therapy, care farming, and green exercise. But experts say that all these types can be effective with the help of a 'trained therapist' leading the participants in different nature-themed activities.

Nature's link with mental and physical well-being had been discussed in ages. In 1984, Edward O. Wilson wrote a book called  Biophilia which stated that men's affiliation with nature is rooted in genetics and biology said a report by Vice. The report added that there are obvious effects of nature and that scientists are trying to further prove that working with nature's elements such as 'flowers, grass, trees, and wild animals' could potentially treat anxiety and depression.

Today, there are various organizations offering ecotherapy services to help the mental conditions of individuals. They all claim to have health benefits to the participants, and with the growing number of followers, it looks like it can really do good.

According to EcotheraphyHeals.Com, this process is the "receiving and being nurtured by the healing presence of nature, place, Earth." Ecotherapy is enhanced with scientific professional psychotherapy methods, which is the reason why this technique is being taught to psychotherapists as well. But ecotherapy experts are not allowed to perform psychotherapy alone.

Although there are studies today, saying nature can drastically improve mental health, there is no concrete evidence yet that proves that it can cure severe mental illness. But the Mind, The Mental Health Charity said that it is recommended for people with early signs of mental illness to perform ecotherapy to prevent them from 'deteriorating' further.

But despite that, according to another article by Mind, there are tons of benefits from ecotherapy which include: improved mental and physical health, confidence building which leads to improved social life and a renewed appreciation of nature which then helps an individual practice mindfulness.

For those interested, there are available reading materials which can guide individuals perform a do-it-yourself journey through ecotherapy. But there are also organizations who offer a guided treatment process for individuals interested in this new method of alleviating mental and physical disorders.

 

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