This is the first in a series of blogs about Ecotherapy – a method of promoting good mental health and physical wellbeing through outdoor activity in the natural environment. With the current situation in the world, many people have been seeing and feeling the benefits of being in nature and rediscovering or fully appreciating their precious time in it. Whether that’s by having a walk outside to get some physical activity and fresh air, hearing joyous bird song or taking the time to notice all the flora and fauna that is springing to life at the moment. All of which help to give us a positive boost to our mood, both in the present moment and as a longer-term benefit.
Being in nature gives us a break from staring at a computer screen or listening to the blare of a TV, it gives us something to focus on or alternatively gives us a chance to free our minds and not think about anything at all. Nature is accessible to everyone from all walks of life in one form or another, and is always there as a constant. However, nature is continually changing. Even if you go on the exact same walk every day there will always be something new to notice. You don’t even need to leave your house to feel the benefit from nature. You can look out of your window or even grow seeds and plants in your house.
Even while life is very different to what we are used to, trees are still swaying in the breeze, rivers are still flowing, bees are still buzzing and birds are still singing. We can rely on nature to support us and we can gain the benefits from it every day if we only remember to take some time out of our day to connect with it.
Next time you are outside take a few extra moments to pay attention and focus on some of the things you notice when you are out and about. If you can try to do this in a different way to usual it will help to widen and broaden your experience of nature. For example, you could look in close detail at the patterns in leaves and plants, or if you normally walk then take the time to sit and be still and focus on something like watching a butterfly move between flowers. Why not try to focus on your other senses – perhaps you could smell the sweet scent of blossom or try closing your eyes to better listen to the sound of the birds and their many distinctive calls. Look up at the clouds and down at the plants and insects that get easily missed or overlooked. Hopefully these ideas will give you a bit of a starting point and help you to gain a fuller experience of being in nature in order to improve your mental and physical wellbeing.
Recently, the Ecotherapy team were sent a very helpful infographic by Decorative Aggregates. This infographic highlights the mental health benefits of gardening such as relaxation, control and stress relief. These benefits aren’t only specific to gardening, they can also be applied to being in nature in general. Over the coming weeks we will be looking more in detail at the infographic and the different benefits of gardening and being in nature that it mentions.
This piece was written by Freya Lovett who supports our Bearing Fruit group. If you are interested in joining our Ecotherapy programme you’d be very welcome.