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 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 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!