Research reveals that environments can increase or reduce our stress, which in turn impacts our bodies. What we see, hear, experience at any moment is changing not only our mood, but also how our nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working. The stress of an unpleasant environment can cause anxiety, or helplessness. This in turn elevates blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension and suppresses the immune system. A pleasing environment can reverse that. Nature therapy, also called ecotherapy, is the practice of being in nature to boost growth and healing, especially mental health.

The beauty and serenity of nature create a sense of peace that is usually absent in busy urban environments. Thus, spending time in nature is one of the most effective ways to reduce everyday stress and mental fatigue. Being in such a spacious, relaxing environment helps our mind to recharge and put us in a positive mood. Going barefoot in nature is even more beneficial, as it allows the body to come into direct contact with the earth and truly connect with nature. Getting outside and walking barefoot has been shown to help regulate the nervous system, strengthen immunity and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

The use of nature as a form of therapy has gained the interest of scientists, researchers and nature enthusiasts. Reconnecting with nature has been shown to be beneficial for easing some of the symptoms of depression. The very act of being in nature promotes mindfulness and gratitude. The inherent ‘peace and quiet’ of natural environments can help to clear our mind of unnecessary worries and reduce feelings of anger and tension.

The great outdoors also encourages healthy physical activity, which is a major factor in battling depression. Not only does exercise increase the energy levels and make us physically stronger, but it also makes us feel happier. Movement produces endorphins that elicit feelings of pleasure.

Poor quality sleep can have a negative impact on our mental health. Problems with sleeping are commonly linked to mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Spending more time in nature exposes our body to natural light – which can be beneficial in improving sleep patterns. Natural light helps to regulate our natural body clock, and having a good dose of sunlight regularly allows us to normalize sleep schedule and ensure we wake up feeling rejuvenated.

Social connection is important for our mental health and overall well-being. Getting outside in nature forces us to unplug from technology and connect with the people around us. Green spaces provide an array of opportunities for people to engage in group social activities like sports and nature-based activities. These outdoor group activities encourage social inclusion and help to build strong social communities of people. This can help provide people with a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Exposure to nature has been proven to be a key factor in maintaining good physical, social and mental health. The calming effects of the natural environment are particularly beneficial for easing stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Getting out into the great outdoors is a habit that we should incorporate into our daily lives. Regularly reconnecting with the natural world will allow us to live a much healthier and happier lifestyle.

Apart from this, it has also been found to be helpful in various areas such as:

  • ADHD
  • Dementia
  • Lessened pain
  • Lowered stress
  • Medical recovery
  • Mood modification
  • Obesity
  • PTSD