This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 2021 and this years theme is #ConnectWithNature given that Gardening Love is all about the mental health benefits of nature and ecotherapy, I’m thrilled to be able to post on this topic in support of the Mental Health Foundation.
Definition of Well-being
Well-being is often defined as the state of being happy, healthy, content, or generally prosperous in life. Many people think of well-being in terms of their physical health, although well-being encompasses much more than your physical condition.
Ways of measuring and improving well-being have been researched for centuries. Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle referred to the term ‘Eudemonia’, living a life governed by reason.
Well-being also includes an optimal, healthy mental state, a knowing and embracing of a sense of purpose for one’s life and feeling a high level of life satisfaction.
Unfortunately, our fast-paced society does not leave us much time to check in with ourselves and our well-being.
Well-being and Ecotherapy
As we continue to live through the Covid-19 pandemic depression and anxiety symptoms are at an all time high. Mental illness is on the rise and the impact of these symptoms on the state of our well-being is significant.
A form of healing called ecotherapy is becoming recognized as one of the best ways to improve one’s sense of well-being. The knowledge that nature can be a healing force has existed throughout time. Recently, scientific data has upheld this common belief and provided reproducible benefits to human well-being from spending time in nature.
Ecotherapy includes regular time spent in a natural environment—a forest, open meadow, beach, or even a green urban setting such as a park.
There are benefits derived from bringing nature indoors, too. House plants, nature scenes in photos or paintings or even a window that overlooks a green area can be beneficial to your sense of well-being.
There is a fantastic free document offered by the Mental Health Foundation which outlines the research into the mental health benefits of nature, here is the link.
How to Improve Well-Being with Nature
Nature settings are now being used more to conduct therapy sessions. Art therapists, dance therapists and ‘traditional’ talk therapists are finding benefit for their patients and clients. Some are making this type of outdoor therapy available as an option in their treatment plans.
Many people report an improvement in their state of well-being by venturing into nature alone on a regular basis. Recognising that they feel happier, more content and full of vitality after returning from a walk in the woods or a stroll on the beach.
Some people naturally find their ‘happy place’ in nature. Understanding they’ll find peace and contentment there whenever they sense a drop in their mood or wellness meter.
Read this post on ecotherapy activities for suggestions.
Make Time for Regular Nature Therapy
Findat least one natural setting you can realistically visit regularly. Try spending 15 mindful minutes in nature on a regular basis a few times per week to boost your well-being.
While you’re spending time in nature, practice being aware of what your senses are experiencing. Focus your thoughts on the sights, sounds, smells, and textures surrounding you. Take note of how the air feels on your skin—the temperature, humidity, breeze or air movement.
While you’re senses are exploring your surroundings your thoughts will likely drift back to life’s stressful moments. This is completely normal.
You may find yourself thinking about your worries and anxieties. Don’t fight the thoughts. Let them come, acknowledge them, and let them go. Like the waves on an ocean or the blowing of the breeze—they come and go. Then return to the moment by using your senses to ground you back in the present.
To read more about mindfulness and how you can use mindful activities as part of your well-being plan click here.
Nature is Where The Magic Happens
One session in nature won’t do all that much for your well-being.
Regularly practicing mindfulness in nature is where the magic happens. Keep consistently making those self-appointments. Stay mindful and aware while you’re in nature. Before you know it, your wellness meter will be overflowing!
I’d love to here your experiences with how you #ConnectWithNature please comment below or tag me on social media @gardeningloveuk to share your thoughts.