What is Ecotherapy?

Are you experiencing worry, anxiety, or an overwhelming sense of isolation? Ecotherapy might be a great help. In today’s fast-paced digital environment, there is a genuine need for nature’s therapeutic touch. 

You can practice Ecotherapy through nature-based practises such as outdoor mindfulness, art therapy and nature walks into daily life, which help you forge a stronger connection with nature over time. 

Ecotherapy, commonly referred to as nature therapy, is a type of nature therapy that involves outdoor activities. There are numerous advantages of being outdoors for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Ecotherapy involves being mindful of what’s happening in your mind, body and the sensory effects of the environment. 

We completely understand if the stress of urban life has you searching for tranquillity and mental clarity. We’re here to walk you through the idea of Ecotherapy, sharing how it can help you develop an appreciation for both your mind and the natural world. 

Connecting with nature has a positive impact on well-being over time and improves the relationship between people and the natural world. At RESET, we believe in the power of the mind, body and environment connection, which can be harnessed to create a virtuous cycle where small changes we make to one area positively impact the rest – you can see this in the image below:     

Here at RESET, we use a wide range of tools as part of our unique therapy model – including making outdoor activities part of our regular practice. 

Regardless of whether you choose to pursue Ecotherapy on its own, a blend of therapies or the RESET approach, we aim to help you make an informed decision on the best path for you. 

What types of Ecotherapy are there?

These are some of the most common types of Ecotherapy activities:

  • Horticultural therapy uses gardening to promote emotional well-being, which is especially helpful for people struggling with stress, burnout and substance abuse. 
  • Green exercise is the practice of engaging in physical activity in green areas, for example taking a walk in a group setting. 
  • Nature meditation occurs in a natural setting, for example, a park, and is occasionally done as a group therapy. The group may decide something about nature that appeals to them and they may then take a few minutes to consider the lessons it may teach them. 
  • Animal-assisted therapy aims to promote therapeutic relationships between people and animals. For example, there’s an activity in the Brecon Beacons where you can take Kune Kune pigs out for a hike!

Benefits of Ecotherapy 

Ecotherapy offers numerous benefits for your well-being, as shown below:

Benefits of Ecotherapy on the mind

Problem-solving skills and diverse thinking have been shown to improve for people taking a break from technology. Ecotherapy may enable people to slow down, become more mindful and feel gratitude for what they have, even if these are little things. It may also lead to a decrease in stress levels, improved mood, increased mental clarity and increased creativity. Ecotherapy allows for a break from screens and devices which can be greatly beneficial since people are consistently exposed to technology in the modern world.

Additionally, ecotherapy could also result in a feeling of awe, improved sleep, emotional resilience and a healthy mind-body connection. 

Research outlines the advantages of gardening for psychiatric hospital patients, with many patients stating improved moods, enhanced tranquillity, a sense of community and a better understanding of their mental health. The charity Mind explores the benefits of Ecotherapy and shares inspiring testimonials from people whose mental and physical well-being have improved as a result of applying this therapy to their lives. 

Benefits of Ecotherapy on the body

One study has shown that listening to nature sounds and environmental noise instead of traffic or other common city noises may help your nervous system recover from stress more quickly. Additionally, ecotherapy encourages physical activity and strengthens the immune system. 

Benefits of Ecotherapy on social life

Research by Forest Medicine expert, Dr Qing Li has established that “forest bathing” (spending time in the presence of trees and a form of nature therapy) can help people feel less anxious and stressed, lose weight, have more energy and have a stronger immune system. 

Engaging with others going through similar things can be facilitated by spending time together in nature, which can reduce loneliness and provide peer support. Ecotherapy increases social interaction and may help participants understand the value of protecting the environment and the distinctive ecosystems seen in various regions. 

How to apply Ecotherapy to your life 

You have now learnt about the benefits and types of Ecotherapy. Here’s how you can apply Ecotherapy in your life:

  • Pick an activity: Think about choosing whether you prefer one-on-one or group sessions. To reap the many benefits of Ecotherapy, it is important for you to find an activity that you like.
  • Engage your senses mindfully: Turn off your devices and practice mindfulness of the environment by reflecting on your experiences and applying the lessons learnt to your everyday life. 
  • Create a routine by yourself, with a group or as part of a therapy programme, for example taking therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). 

You will get more benefits if you use Ecotherapy consistently. This article by James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) explains how you can build habits which actually stick. You can think of making small changes to bring nature into your life, for example, going on short lunchtime walks. A study shows that lunchtime walks can increase contentment at work and productivity.

  • Think about getting professional support if you need help with your mental health or well-being. There are many therapists available who incorporate elements of Ecotherapy into their practice which can enhance the benefits of the treatment they provide. For example, this Ecotherapy Centre in Brighton provides lots of opportunities for people to engage in community Ecotherapy which includes therapeutic horticulture, training workshops and bespoke programmes.

Ecotherapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments such as talking treatments or medication. 

How do I find Ecotherapists near me?

This article highlighted how Ecotherapy can be a doorway to a refreshed sense of well-being through nature’s soothing embrace. You arrived considering whether nature may help with your mental and emotional issues. You now understand how Ecotherapy may enable mindfulness, relaxation and a deep connection to the natural world. 

What comes next? You can discover a therapist who practices Ecotherapy in the Counselling Directory by searching for “Ecotherapy” in the keywords section of the search tool. Or you can look out for walking groups or garden therapies in your area. 

If you prefer to practice alone, you can come up with your own environment-based activities, and reap the therapeutic rewards that nature has to offer. 

And if you enjoyed this blog, you might also like How can exercise release trauma in the body?

Amrit Mann is a final year student studying Health and Social Care, and has an Extended Diploma in Sports and Physical Activity. Passionate about the mind-body-environment connection, Amrit completed a student placement with RESET in the year of 2023.

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