Slice of Life Challenge – March 8 – Mother Nature’s Healing Powers: The Benefits of Ecotherapy

Throughout February, I worked on a plan to involve others in my blogging experiences this month. Today, my sister-in-law, Dr. Bethany Johnson, is my guest blogger on the benefits of Ecotherapy.

Dr. Bethany Johnson

Dr. Bethany Johnson is a professor of Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. She is a writing contributor for several online magazines, including Prime Women and Honey Good. Last summer , when working with @beginningisnow with actress Brooke Shields, she was selected as one of the 40 Most Influential Women Over 40. Currently, she is in the beginning stages of writing a book about losing unnecessary social expectations and rediscovering oneself. Please welcome Bethany today!

Mother Nature’s Healing Ability – The Benefits of Ecotherapy

Have you ever been feeling down, stressed, or just overall not feeling good and then gone outside for a bit only to begin to feel better? It isn’t a coincidence that being outside made you feel better. The answer to many of our physical, emotional, and mental lows can be found right beyond your door.

Ecotherapy is known as the practice of therapy that focuses on being outdoors and in nature. It is also known as nature therapy or green therapy. The term ecotherapy arose in 1992 when Professor Theodor Roszark used it in his book The Voice of the Earth. Many doctors (mostly functional physicians) are now using the connection with nature as part of protocol for getting healthier. Multiple studies have shown the benefits of being in nature. Many may say there is not enough research to validate this theory, however, there are enough examples of it working to make a reasonable connection.

A Dose of Nature a Day:
 Helps lower blood pressure
 Helps control diabetes
 Lowers stress and anxiety
 Rises energy levels, fights fatigue, and increases the quality of sleep
 Reduces depression
 Reduces the levels of ADD and ADHD
 Increases mental focus

Since I began studying the practice of ecotherapy, my experiences outside are so different. Each trip outside brings something different – even when I am in the same place. I now am very purposeful in slowing down and connecting with what is around me. Today, for example, on my walk I saw the bright white dogwood trees, I felt the sun warm my skin, especially my toes (which must have been cold from being inside and I hadn’t noticed until my walk), and off in the distance I heard a woodpecker. While walking, I first smelled something burning … wood. However, the wind shifted and then I smelled fresh cut grass. This is one of my favorite smells in the world and immediately took me back to my childhood living on the farm in Illinois! My walk tomorrow will be a whole new experience, and I can’t wait!

Gaining the benefits from ecotherapy is not difficult. You simply need to make time to get outside! The important aspect of ecotherapy is simply being outdoors and connecting to the natural elements. No matter what you are doing outside, be conscious of the fresh air you are breathing in, the wind or breeze blowing across your skin, the sounds that surround you (this is better if it is sounds of nature and not of human life). Make certain to acknowledge the colors that surround you. Look at the greens of the trees and grass, the vibrant colors of the flowers, the different textures such as the roughness of tree bark but the smoothness of a flower petal. Make certain to engage all four senses: touch, taste, smell and hearing. So, get up and get out!! Enjoy nature and heal your tired body, mind, and soul. Love to all of you!

Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers for giving writers space and voice!

11 Replies to “Slice of Life Challenge – March 8 – Mother Nature’s Healing Powers: The Benefits of Ecotherapy”

  1. I know this is true for myself and I can also see it in my children. Sometimes, when they are cranky or getting on each other’s nerves (or my) nerves, I just make them go outside and things always seem to get better!

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  2. I needed to read this! Thanks for sharing on the importance of being outside. When on vacation, it constantly happens. Maybe it is why this week, I’m in a great mood! Now I need to ensure it happens once back home. As a middle school teacher, it is want our students NEED but recess isn’t even in our schedule:( No wonder they act as they do. Thank your guest writer for giving me lots to ponder.

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  3. Kim, this post itself is balm to my soul. I know so much of it to be true, that nature holds holistic healing powers. The scent of fresh cut grass your sister-in-law mentions is especially powerful for me (as I’ve written before). It transports me back to my childhood home as well, to my father mowing the lawn. He seems very near, in that scent. As writers we must heighten our senses for honing the craft, but even more so should we as humans, in the art of life and wellbeing. These things ARE interconnected; we were meant to live closer to the earth than we do now. Please thank Dr. Bethany Johnson for this post – her work sounds most rewarding and I would love to read her book when it comes out!

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  4. Kim, I’ve been seriously considering buying an electric bike. Now, I am even more sold on that idea as I want to explore the many bike trails available, but I know I do not have the stamina for a normal bike after breaking my leg/ankle. I was just thinking the other day about how much I enjoyed playing outside when I was growing up, I don’t think kids today get outside enough.

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  5. Kim,
    We’re doubly blessed today to be w/ two Dr. Johnsons! I don’t care about those who screech “there isn’t enough evidence” to validate ecotherapy. One need only look at the increasing popularity of our national parks and compare the heath stats of those who get outside regularly to those who live in concrete jungles and never find escape. I also believe the naysayers—many, anyway—likely have a financial interest in opposing ecotherapy. The two most ecotherapy trips I’ve taken are to Costa Rica and Iceland. Ireland is third. It’s the time in nature, including time in small boutique hotels, that made those trips among my favorites. I’m hoping we get some warm weather Sunday so I can trot off into the mountains. Thanks for bringing Dr. Bethany along and allowing her to share her expertise today. 🤗 thanks

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  6. I believe greatly in the power and wisdom of ecotherapy – “it is solved by walking” is my mantra, lol. Walking in nature! I appreciate the reminder to slow down and “be conscious of the fresh air you are breathing in, the wind or breeze blowing across your skin, the sounds that surround you” – well said! Thank you for this.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Kim,
    I love how you are inviting others into your blogging experiences this month. Your sister-in-law’s post reminds me of “forest bathing” experiences– so soothing being in nature! You’ve got me thinking about posting a few photos from my walks outside this week. Thank you for the inspiration!

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  8. Dear Kim and Bethany, two Dr. Johnsons, thank you for the inspiration. I love the idea of noticing the differences on a daily walk. Even though you are going the same place, the sights, sounds, breezes, weather and more are always different. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Such a lovely post! Many thanks to your sister-in-law who just confirmed what I wrote about in my post today about noticing nature and experiencing it as we walk. I agree with everything shared about the healing power of nature!

    Liked by 2 people

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