Ecotherapy is the practice of using Nature to boost healing, especially in the mental health field. Studies prove the healing powers of Mother Nature.
Bury your fingers in dirt to sow seeds or plant flowers. Your mind will stop its chatter. Feel that connection with the microbes and nutrients in soil. You become ONE with the vital energy of Mother Earth. A sense of peace, calm, and hope infuses your body. Negative attitudes no longer exist.
Enjoy your flower arrangements at stressful times. Revel in the beauty of your creation
Tasting vegetables you harvest from your own garden is a delight to the palate. You can pick them just before serving to retain the natural vitamins. They simply beat the produce available in a grocery store. There is comfort in knowing your food is free of harmful substances. Your body will reward you with vibrant energy and health.
Another option to find solace for your soul, is to stroll around a Botanical Garden. There are shade trees and spaces devoted to specific flowers. Often artistic sculptures are interspersed throughout. And you find seasonal displays such as tulips or daffodils in spring, annuals and perennials in summer and fall colors. Master gardeners do the work for your enjoyment. Butterflies and local birds add to the spectacle. You can’t stay depressed for long.
We can’t satisfy all human beings or control the drama of daily living at work or home. At the end of our day, we often have frazzled nerves. How quickly our mood can change when we walk into our home. An excited dog wagging its tail and whining with joy at our return melts your heart. Or a cat wrapping its tail around your leg, purring loudly in welcome. Our human family doesn’t greet us with such enthusiasm. The exception being a tiny child or baby.
All animals seem to raise and uplift our spirits. They have this capacity to alleviate sadness. Don’t you thrill to see horses cavorting and kicking up their heels? Consider the popularity of zoos where all species manage to captivate us. Or do you dream of going on safari to see wild animals in their natural habitat. Even a trip to a farm or State Fair will draw attendees like magnets to the livestock barns.
The rare glimpse of a woodland creature along a roadside or in a forest makes our day. Most of us live in populated areas. It’s a special treat to see wild animals unexpectedly. Some of my memorable sightings have been: deer dancing in a meadow after a rain. A male moose with huge rack standing guard at the edge of a wilderness lake. Lake otters crawling from a hole in the ice to play like kids on a frozen lake. A young bear cub leaping over deadfall, surprised by my presence on a trail. A fox trotting beside a highway carrying a rabbit home to its kits for dinner. A beaver slapping its tail in warning at dusk while canoeing past it. A loon revving its wings prior to takeoff from a lake, its cry echoing during flight. These are just a few of my precious moments. I’m sure you have some of your own.
One of the best ways to achieve serenity and calm is pack a knapsack and escape the world’s insanity by hiking in the woods.
As soon as you set foot on a forest path, all five senses seem to perk up. Mental stress vanishes. You see nuances in trees and plants that you weren’t aware of before. Your ears detect bird songs and insect noises anew. You notice the play of light from the sun through the tree canopy. You feel subtle warmth and coolness on your skin. You revel in slight breezes against your face. You smell damp earth and pine needle scents.
The tableau of colorful wildflowers on a hillside can take your breath away. The sight of spring wildflowers poking through decayed leaves makes you forget a cold winter. You regain the wonder and newness of your early childhood years. “Life is good!”
If you come upon a ripe patch of blueberries or raspberries, the taste transports you to another world. Time is forgotten. It no longer exists. Domestic berries can’t compare. Hmm. Mmm. You don’t want the sensation to end. You revel in the rare find and thank Mother Earth for her bounty.
You hear a distant sound of cascading water. Is there a waterfall ahead? Your footsteps quicken. You pick up your pace. You anticipate another treat. And there it is. A delight to your eyes and ears.
What a special place to sit awhile. Eat your lunch. Immerse yourself in the refreshing image. The water within your own body instinctively responds. Needless to say, the scene is mesmerizing. You have to linger awhile. How often we forget that our earth is an amazing place after all.
Physical exercise is not only beneficial for your body but also your mind. When it is practiced in a natural outdoor setting, it becomes even more meaningful. Cycling on a bike path beside a river restores your spirit. Kayaking on a lake invigorates your entire body. Running on a forest path feels more energetic than along a city sidewalk. Riding a horse in a natural environment is more fulfilling than in an arena.
Rock climbing, mountaineering, and backpacking are pleasurable activities that stretch your muscles and minds. Endorphins released bury feelings of worry and sadness and depression. You feel in control of your life afterwards. “If I can do this. I can do anything.” There is a sense of accomplishment that stays with you. Self esteem soars.
Not everyone has easy access to green or blue spaces. Inclement weather or cold winter months may inhibit outdoor activities also. What are some ways that you can bring nature inside?
Feel the positive effects of being in Nature for yourself. Put aside video games, TV, computers and cell phones. Get outside! Move that body! Let the natural world restore your spirit. Notice the calmness present in anyone who works or plays in nature. Put aside the mind numbing pills and booze. Use Mother Nature as your psychiatrist. The sessions are free. Your body will love you.