There is no denying that we live in bizarre times.
We work long hours, do house chores, and go off to sleep. We do not realize how this takes a toll on our bodies and minds. Troubles in personal life and diseases, as well as poor health conditions, also add to this stress. We all have traumas from the past or unresolved emotions that build up over time.
Problems creep in the form of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. All of these things, in the end, begin to hamper us. Our personal lives get into trouble and so work.
To get over this and do some good for our mind and body, we sought refuge in different things. We join yoga classes, pick up a new hobby, or even go to therapists. However, a lot of times, these alone do not work. We do not realize that the way to our healing lies right in front of us, in the form of nature.
Though there is an abundance of nature around us, laziness and reluctance to step outside stops one from the powers and magic of nature.
Whenever you feel low or feel gloomy and sad, instead of lying down or spending time in front of your screen, put on your shoes, and step outside. Walk to your favorite park or lake. If this is too much, then just go and sit out in your garden.
Coming close to nature and spending time with it can do wonders for your mental health. You can also seek professional help, called ecotherapy. Nature works its magic in amazing ways and heals your mind and body.
In recent years, doctors have started looking towards nature to treat patients. Ecotherapy is one such method.
Interacting with nature to achieve healing and growth is known as ecotherapy
When you opt for ecotherapy, you are guided by a professional who will focus on performing an activity in a green space. You can decide whether you want to interact with other individuals or if you would like to do the activity by yourself.
There are different types of eco therapies. A few examples are:
Adventure therapy involves undertaking physical activity. It could be a hike, rafting, or rock climbing.
This type of ecotherapy involves practicing yoga, walking, or other forms of exercise in a green space, preferably outside.
If you opt for wilderness therapy, you will be spending time outdoors in the wild. There will be some activities like building shelter involved. It is particularly beneficial for relationship strains with the family, spouse, and even for addictions.
Ecotherapy has long term results. It is not a one-time “I feel good” thing. Ecotherapy is a form of exercise, and so it gives you gradual and long term results.
– It helps reduce anxiety
– It improves self-esteem
– Helps in overcoming depression. Staying active reduces the risk of depression by 30%.
– Improves the quality of sleep.
– It helps keep your weight in check, thereby keeping a check on other physical conditions as well.
– It improves cognitive functions and memory function in older people.
While spending as much as 10 minutes out in nature every day will show you tremendous results, a study has shown that 120 minutes every week will work magic for your well-being. Living in greener surroundings also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, mental health problems.
One of the most important health benefits is that it boosts your immunity. When you spend time outside, surrounded by trees, the amount of stress hormones produced in your body comes down. This works in strengthening your immune system.
When you surround yourself with trees and plants, you breathe in phytoncides. They are an airborne chemical that trees and other plants produce to protect themselves from insects. These phytoncides have antimicrobial and antifungal properties that help in fighting infections and diseases.
As you breathe these in, the number of natural killer cells or NK (a type of white blood cells) increase. NK kills the tumor and other viruses that may have infected our body.
Whether you simply take a walk in a forest, sit in a park or exercise amongst the trees, you can lower your stress levels significantly. A study conducted showed 95% of the subjects interviewed reported improved mood after spending time out in nature.
We have already discussed how spending time in nature can help you reduce stress and boost your immunity. These factors also lead to the improvement of cognitive functions. According to a 2008 study, participants show a 16% increase in attention and memory after a nature walk compared to walk-in in a noisy urban setting.
Ecotherapy benefits both body and mind. Researchers and doctors advocate to use it in the following conditions:
• Mood disorders
• High blood pressure
• Post cancer fatigue
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