Why Our Busy Brains Need Ecotherapy

This is a picture of my very happy dog today – we’ve just got back from a nice blustery walk in the New Forest.  To be truthful, it’s not just the dog that was happy, it was me!

My brain has been feeling a bit cluttered lately with ‘too many tabs open’ and getting outside was just what I wanted.  In fact, what I needed.  I try and get out and ‘greenbathe’ as much as possible, and I’m extremely fortunate that I have this beautiful open space on my doorstep.  When I’ve been stuck in the office all day, I feel in poor health, both physically and mentally.

But what is Ecotherapy and why does this help us?

According to the charity Mind, ‘Ecotherapy is more than going for a walk in the park or mowing the lawn in the garden. It is a regular activity that is:

• facilitated and structured
• focuses on doing an activity rather than ‘health’
• takes place in a green environment
• is related to exploring and appreciating the natural world
• happens over time
• involves contact with other people.

At least one in four British adults will experience some kind of mental health problem in any one year; prescriptions for antidepressants are at record levels in England. The World Health Organization has predicted that depression will be the second biggest cause of illness worldwide by 2020’.

These are alarming facts and prove the point that we all need to look after ourselves, and take a bit of time out.  Easier said than done sometimes, especially when you have a busy family life, a business to run, the list goes on…But as a start to ‘Ecotherapy’, even 10 minutes walking round the block will help – it’s just time out.

NHS/Livewell have a great guide to walking here:  https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx.  A brisk walk is about three miles an hour, which is faster than a stroll.  One way to tell if you’re walking briskly is if you can still talk but can’t sing the words to a song.  The NHS also have the free ‘Active 10 app’, which can be downloaded on your smartphone (no dog required!)

And there’s so many more health benefits to being outside:

  • Being outside increases our Vitamin D intake, which is derived from sunlight.
  • Being in a natural environment can help increase your sleep quality, as studies show that natural sunlight helps set the body’s internal clock.  It also normalizes hormonal functions that happen at set times of the day.
  • It makes us less stressed by lowering our heart rate.
  • AND, it gives us a break from technology!  (I take my phone for pics only, not to check emails and social media!).

How many more reasons do you need?  Get some Ecotherapy in your life – Feel better outside, and feel better inside.

 

Claire Sheppard

CS Admin Support

 

 

 

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