There are many different ways for people to heal when they are struggling with an addiction, mental illness or other issue that has disrupted their life. Incorporating a variety of therapies into treatment can be effective in addressing every aspect of a person’s health. Options like environmental therapy may be available in certain treatment centers for patients to have a natural healing experience.
Environmental therapy or eco therapy is a way for people in recovery from emotional issues to experience nature in a way that can allow them to feel more grounded and centered. Most people lead busy, stressful lives in the city and are cut off from our natural state of being. Feeling more connected to the earth and our environment can help reduce the sense of isolation that people often feel in a big city.
Recovery can be a chance for people to reconnect with themselves and environmental therapy is a good opportunity for self-reflection. Being immersed in nature allows people time for quiet contemplation and a feeling of being a part of something bigger than themselves. Treatment centers that offer environmental therapy can provide patients with a memorable experience that will help them remain more stable in the future.
The Concept of Environmental Therapy
Someone who has never been through environmental therapy might not understand the benefits of being in nature for difficult issues such as substance abuse and mental illness. However the environment can have a powerful impact on a person’s well-being and their sense of self. The practice of ecopsychology is a growing field that is becoming more relevant in modern times.
The idea behind ecotherapy is that we are all part of the web of life and our psyches are not separate but deeply connected to the environment surrounding us. It is grounded in the belief that people need to have a relationship with nature that they can explore for their own personal growth. Our physical, emotional and spiritual state can benefit from being closer to nature and feeling connected to the earth.
Clinicians who practice environmental therapy believe that the earth has a powerful ability to provide balance and harmony when people have a relationship with it. They believe that personal well-being and planetary well-being are not separate from each other but are deeply connected. The interaction between people and the environment is something that needs to be addressed for better mental health.
How the Environment Affects Mental Health
Research has shown that being in a natural place tends to have a more positive impact on a person’s emotions. One particular study had participants take a test designed to induce mental fatigue and then had them walk through a nature reserve, an urban environment or sit quietly reading or listening to music. Those who walked through nature had significantly lower levels of anger and more positive emotions than the ones who had different activities.
Walking through nature has been shown to reduce depression in 71 percent of study participants compared with other environments like shopping centers. Nature impacts all of our senses in a way that can dramatically reduce stress and promote a feeling of calm. People who hear natural sounds like water or birds or smell fresh air and plants tend to feel less depressed.
Visually nature can have an immediate impact on a person’s emotions as studies have shown that simply looking at photos of natural environments can promote feelings of well-being. While viewing pictures of trees and water can help reduce anxiety, the optimal choice is to be immersed in nature and fully experience it as a relationship and connection. Meditating in or walking through a natural place can have the most significant effects on mental health.
Treatment programs that offer environmental therapy will all have their own approach to how they help patients to connect with nature. They might have group therapy sessions outdoors where patients contemplate and write about or discuss aspects of nature. Some programs might have patients plant trees or work in a garden to feel more connected to the earth.
Physical exercise in nature can be beneficial because it releases endorphins while also creating awareness of the environment. Hiking, walking or jogging on a nature trail can effectively reduce stress, depression, anger and anxiety. Surfing or swimming in the ocean, walking on the beach and spending time in the sand can also be beneficial to our mental and emotional state.
For those interested in environmental therapy, contact a treatment program that offers options this kind of recovery method. A treatment center that is located in or near a natural environment can help patients heal in a way that they may not be able to in a more urban setting. Contact recovery centers in your area to find out if they offer environmental therapy.