The Happy Wellness Room
Take a hike! Hikes need not be long and grueling, especially for a beginner; find a gentle trail, and you’ll be surprised how quickly 2-3 miles go by. Don’t forget to appreciate your surroundings and take a friend.
Plant a garden! If you don’t have a yard, you can decorate your balcony with houseplants; ponytail palms and Ficus are nature, too!
Bring nature indoors with aquariums, terrariums, atriums, and window gardens.
The Japanese have a name for it: shinrin-yoku and it means “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere” (Fitzgerald, 2019). Nature therapy or Ecotherapy is not a new concept. Followers believe immersing ourselves in nature is therapeutic and can even reverse disease. In a 2020 (Kyung, et al.) study, the authors found “the nature-based therapy process did not consist of just a single element or step, but involved an integrated way of healing with emotional and cognitive changes” (Abstract). Researchers are now learning that almost any immersion into nature benefits the person’s wellbeing, causing them “to feel new again” (Summers & Vivian, 2018). Let us not forget that Nature provides us with every single thing we need to survive: air to breathe, fiber for clothing, lumber for building homes and businesses, trees, caves, and formations for shelter, plants and animals for nourishment and enjoyment, water to cleanse our bodies inside and out, and terrain for exercise. No matter where a person is, nature is sure to be nearby… almost forgotten in the rush to be unwell and unhealthy.
Did you know American and European children spend less than one hour each day outside? That’s less than prison inmates (Seaward, 2021). As Seaward said, “we are losing the realization of our inherent connection to the natural world” (p.328). Humans have been connected with nature since the beginning. In the last half-century, we’ve seen an almost sudden shift of people who spent most of their time outdoors, to spending most of their time indoors. We need to get outdoors again. We can start now. We can go outside more often, interact with nature when possible, and create opportunities to share nature with others. Humans need nature; it enhances our cognitive abilities, and emotional and spiritual development, and can also help with chronic pain (Summers & Vivian, 2018). Nature enhances our positive emotions and helps us feel connected. In their article from 2020, Jim Robbins found people who spent more than two hours each week in nature were “substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t”. Robbins also reported those same benefits didn’t exist for the people who did not spend more than two hours outdoors. This means those who spent time outdoors actually felt better than those who stayed inside.
Ecotherapy, art therapy, and humor are some of the methods used to combat stress; when combined, they can pack a powerhouse punch that sends stress running for the hills. According to Soo-Ji, et. al, (2021), group art therapy and nature therapy combined significantly facilitated stress reduction, had positive effect on self-esteem, improved working memory and concentration, and showed positive influence on the digestive system (Results), (Bonham-Corcoran, et al., 2022). A combined-therapy activity can look like taking a walk in the park, picking up leaves and twigs to arrange into a design on the ground; bring some pieces home (observe park rules) and create a centerpiece or focal point.