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Can Nature Therapy Support Your Mental Well-being?

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

An individual seeking out nature therapy in Colorado.

Yes. There is a connection between nature and well-being.

The connection between nature and well-being is undeniable. Research confirms time in nature can have significant positive effects on your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. One reason for this connection is the concept of biophilia. Biophilia is a fancy word for being connected to all living things. It’s rooted in our evolutionary history and the fact that humans have spent the majority of their existence in natural environments.

What does that really mean though? How can nature as a co-therapist really help you? Can it reduce stress? Yes.

It can improve mental health by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. It encourages being calm and is supportive of being present in the moment. It can also enhance cognitive function. That includes attention, memory, and creativity. Wow.

Nature offers a break from the constant stimulation and distractions of modern life, allowing our brains to rest and recharge. We also realize our social connections as we observe the way all of life connects. For all those reasons and many more, the connection between nature and well-being is a powerful one. By incorporating more time in nature into your daily life, you can reap benefits for your mental, emotional, and physical health.

Many ancient traditions and cultures involved nature in their self-care, celebrations, ceremonies and even mental health care. There is a phrase many indigenous tribes of the Northern American tribes use that means we are all related. This includes all humans as well as plants, animals, water, air, the sun, the moon, the stars, and even the land itself.

Physical benefits of ecotherapy

An individual seeking out nature therapy in Colorado.

Let’s get physical! Engaging in ecotherapy activities can have a positive impact on your physical well-being. You increase your physical activity by spending time in nature. This can involve activities like hiking, walking, or gardening. Physical movement can help you incorporate more exercise into your daily routine.

The sun and vitamin D. Exposure to natural light is important. Spending time in nature exposes you to natural sunlight, a crucial source of vitamin D. Boosted vitamin D levels can support your overall health.

The immunity of it all. Spending time in nature exposes you to a variety of natural elements, including plants, trees, and soil. These natural elements contain microorganisms and beneficial bacteria that can help strengthen your immune system. We really are all related.

Inflammation reduction: Yes, please! Spending time in nature has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. This could be due to a combination of factors, including reduced stress levels, exposure to natural compounds found in plants, and increased physical activity. In any combination, it's good!

Do you care about sleep? Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Exposure to natural light during the day helps regulate your internal body clock, leading to better sleep patterns. Don’t forget about physical activity and its impact on your sleep.

Realizing your Place in Life and Managing your Expectations

Nature can help with those things too. Sometimes you find a moment of existential crisis or the inability to step back and objectively evaluate your experience or place in life. Nature can help us broaden your perspective and feel connected to something bigger. Not so alone.

Nature can be soothing and predictable like the rising and setting sun. Other times it can be spontaneous and disordered. Maybe clouds roll in, or the wind picks up dramatically changing the experience. There is always an element of surprise and opportunities for exploring your own thoughts, feelings, and reactions to what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

You may see a tree that was struck by lightning missing half its leaves and branches but still persisting to life, and be filled with hope or gratitude. Maybe you see something that brings up unresolved grief or acceptance of your situation. Maybe it's an opportunity to let go of some of the perceived control you have over your environment in your home, your job, your schedule, or your life!

It's hard to imagine a wrong way to do nature therapy, also called ecotherapy. If you would like some guidance and support with getting started on your journey to include nature as co-therapist please reach out.

Mental and Emotional Benefits Exist: That’s Ecotherapy

An individual seeking out nature therapy in Colorado.

The healing power of nature can provide a sense of calm and tranquility. This connection with the natural world has been shown to have a positive impact on your mental well-being. Here are some of the key mental and emotional benefits of ecotherapy. It’s also been understood by many cultures throughout history.

Stress Reduction

Spending time in nature has been proven to reduce stress levels. The peaceful and serene environment of natural surroundings can help you relax and unwind, allowing your body and mind to de-stress. Nature has a way of soothing your worries and providing an escape from the fast-paced and demanding nature of modern life.

Improved Mood

Nature has a profound impact on your mood. Being in green spaces and natural environments has been shown to improve your overall mood and increase feelings of happiness and contentment. The sights, sounds, and smells of nature stimulate your senses and evoke positive emotions, helping to alleviate feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression.

Increased Mindfulness

Ecotherapy encourages you to be present in the moment and fully engage with your surroundings. This practice of mindfulness can help you cultivate a greater sense of self-awareness and appreciation for the beauty and wonders of nature. By focusing on the present and disconnecting from your daily stresses and distractions, you can experience a greater sense of peace and clarity.

Enhanced Creativity

Nature has long been known to inspire creativity. The natural world provides a rich source of inspiration, from the intricate patterns of a flower to the majestic views of a mountain range. Engaging with nature can stimulate your imagination and unleash your creative potential. Whether it's painting, writing, or simply daydreaming, spending time outdoors can help awaken your artistic and innovative instincts.

Increased Resilience

Spending time in nature can help build resilience and improve your ability to cope with life's challenges. Nature has an innate ability to nurture and heal, and immersing yourself in natural surroundings can help you gain perspective, find solace, and develop a sense of inner strength. Connecting with the beauty and resilience of the natural world can serve as a reminder of your own capacity for growth and renewal.

What Can It Mean For You?

By now you may realize that there is value in the power of nature. By now you may feel like you are ready to explore nature in your therapy regimen. You may feel confident going out and exploring and kindling your relationship with nature for yourself. That is wonderful news!

Or you may want some support and a third person to help introduce you and be the buffer while you figure it all out. Maybe you already have a relationship with nature and you would like to deepen your relationship and to relate to nature in a new way. Maybe you have trauma history or memories that are bound to nature experiences that you would like to work through. Maybe you just want to plan and strategize getting the most out of your experiences in nature. For those goals and many more, I am happy to help!

How We Can Help

If you are interested in working with Justin and incorporating nature therapy into your counseling journey...

Contact us today to learn more!

Justin has a few limited openings for our Affordable Counseling Program!

Learn more about Justin below.

If you are looking for general support, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:

  1. Contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation

  2. Or, you can book directly online with the therapist of your choice

  3. Begin your journey towards a calmer, more relaxed life

Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:

Author Biography

Justin Norton is a student intern and a provider for the affordable counseling program at Catalyss Counseling. He works with men, adults who have lost direction in their life, and burned-out professionals to regain purpose and meaning so they can become who they have always wanted to be. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.



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