Ecotherapy & its Impacts on Mental Health


Our senses are drawn to nature, which also evokes awe and amazement in us. We can detach from the demands of daily life and re-establish a connection with something greater than ourselves when we interact with the natural environment. A deep sense of calm and tranquillity can be experienced while one is in nature, whether one is wandering through a forest, taking a stroll along a beach, or taking care of a garden. A connection to nature is something that many of us yearn for in our technologically advanced, fast-paced society. It turns out that this craving is a fundamental requirement for our mental health as well as a desire for peace and beauty. A new field of study called ecotherapy has emerged due to mounting evidence in recent years on the therapeutic advantages of being in nature.

In this article, we will explore ecotherapy, its emergence, its types, and how connecting to nature can positively impact our mental health.


Ecotherapy, sometimes referred to as green therapy or nature therapy, is a branch of ecopsychology, a newly emerging science that Theodore Roszak founded. The notion that humans are a part of the natural world and that our psyches are not distinct from our surroundings serves as the foundation of ecotherapy.
Systems theory informs ecopsychology, which gives people a chance to examine their relationship with nature—a topic that is sometimes ignored in other forms of psychotherapy. Some mental health professionals integrate elements of ecotherapy into their current practices, while others teach and practice ecopsychology entirely.

Emergence of Ecotherapy:

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), ecotherapy is a new subject with a growing amount of research supporting its numerous potential health benefits. However, the idea that nature may heal extends back thousands of years. According to the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the age-old and traditional Indian medical system of Ayurveda treats both physical and mental illnesses using “natural” or nature-based methods (such as eating locally grown, seasonal foods). Similarly, according to Johns Hopkins, traditional Chinese medicine is predicated on the idea that the forces of nature deeply impact people and are intrinsically linked to it.

A 2018 research review published in Frontiers in Psychology states that studies showing sceneries of nature were related to pleasant sensations of friendliness, affection, and joy prompted researchers to start looking into the effects of nature on human health in the 1970s. Since then, several studies have discovered comparable advantages of nature for mental health.

Types of Ecotherapy:

There are majorly 5-types of ecotherapy, including;

  1. Horticultural therapy: This type of therapy typically entails gardening, but it can also involve tending to indoor plants or just spending time with them.
  2. Forest Healing: The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” is the foundation of forest therapy. Guided forest immersion is a practice that has been shown to improve both while you unwind and enjoy the forest.
  3. Wilderness Therapy: As part of wilderness therapy, patients camp and hike in remote areas while receiving instruction and practice in survival skills.
  4. Therapy Assisted by Animals: Engaging in therapy with an animal or animals is part of animal-assisted therapy. This can be carried out indoors with therapy animals like dogs or outside in a farm environment.
  5. Green Exercise: Engaging in physical activity while being outdoors is known as “green exercise”. Any form of outdoor exercise, such as walking, cycling, jogging, horseback riding, gardening, etc., may fall under this category.

Impacts on Mental Health:

1. A More Contented and Positive Outlook:

Spending time in nature has a profoundly favorable effect on our happiness and overall attitude. The serene atmosphere of natural surroundings promotes relaxation and enhances sensibilities of well-being. Serotonin release may be enhanced by ecotherapy.

2. Enhanced Self-Regard and Self-Confidence:

Engaging in ecotherapy conditioning like gardening or hiking can boost one’s self-regard and self-confidence. exemplifications of chores in nature that make us feel competent and accomplished are planting plants or finishing a delicate hike. Similarly, self-expression and self-exploration are encouraged by nature’s judgment-free terrain, which promotes acceptance and self-worth.

3. Reduced Stress and Anxiety:

Being in a terrain with lots of greenery, similar to parks, gardens, or forests, calms the body and mind. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can help lower degrees of the stress hormone cortisol as well as feelings of anxiety and despair.

4. Enhanced Resilience and Stress Control:

By making it easier to connect with the natural cycles, ecotherapy promotes a sense of flexibility. Nature’s capability to accommodate changing weather patterns and challenges gives us a precious perspective on resilience and stress reduction.

5. Social Bonding and Sense of Community:

Ecotherapy has the implicit to foster social cohesiveness and a feeling of community. Engaging in outdoor group exercises or community gardening initiatives offers chances for socialization and sharing of experiences among participators.

6. Mindfulness and Grounding:

The tactile sensations delivered by the natural world, similar to feeling the ground beneath our feet, listening to the sound of birds or flowing water, and taking in the beauty of the surroundings, can help us stay in the present. Spending time in nature with our senses increases awareness, lessens rumination, and fosters tranquillity.

7. Enriched Cognitive Function:

Spending time in natural surroundings helps our brains rejuvenate and heal from mental burnout. Studies indicate that spending time in nature can enhance one’s capacity for attention, focus, and problem-solving. We can enhance our brain clarity and cognitive performance by doing ecotherapy.

Using the restorative power of nature, ecotherapy offers several benefits for mental health. Our mental health benefits greatly from time spent in nature; stress and anxiety are reduced, cognitive function is enhanced, mood is improved, and flexibility is increased. By utilizing ecotherapy techniques, we may strengthen our bond with the natural world and make use of its restorative properties.

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