Have you ever thought that taking regular walks in the park or spending time in nature can help you improve your sleep and relieve stress? Nature can have some wonderful effects on your moods, but what you may not know is that it can have some great health benefits as well.
When speaking of nature and health benefits, it’s essential to bring green therapy into the discussion.
This is a technique used in treating different health problems such as:
- Sleep issue
Green therapy refers to spending time outdoors and in Nature surroundings such as parks, forests or natural reservations, with the purpose of enjoying the psychological benefits of this activity. It’s also known as nature therapy and eco therapy.
The therapy may include certain activities such as gardening, agriculture and assisted animal therapy. Patients who follow this therapy can do these activities alone or while they are supervised by their therapists, depending on their condition and the activity they are doing.
Green therapy can have some wonderful benefits for one’s health.
The Benefits of Green Therapy
Represents a great stress relief method
Stress is something you encounter from time to time. It can be represented by a project deadline that is approaching really fast, an interview for a new job or a really hard exam that you have to take. The idea is that stress hides behind many corners and makes you feel under pressure.
Green therapy can be a great way to relieve stress and relax your mind. Imagine this. When you are feeling stressed and pressured, you take a few moments for yourself and you spend them in nature. It can be a walk in a local park or 15 minutes spent in your garden. It can help you detach and make you feel more calm.
Can help you improve your sleep
Green therapy requires a certain amount of physical exercise. Whether it’s jogging, hiking or just going for walks regularly, you still need to move a little.
Doing physical exercises regularly can help you improve your sleep. A study analyzed the relationship between exercise and sleep. It discovered that a regular exercising schedule can lead to improved sleep in time. This is an effect which happens on the long run and it may take a few weeks or months to have an effect on sleep.
Green therapy activities can help you do the daily exercise your body needs and, thus, enjoy a healthy restful sleep.
Besides improving sleep quality, green therapy can have other health benefits such as:
- Decreases the risk of heart attacks
- Lowers the risk of diabetes
- Improves moods and boosts your energy levels
Green therapy can relieve depression and anxiety
Green therapy is a combination between outdoor activities and interaction with other people. These two elements can represent great ways to relieve depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety are two conditions which affect a large number of people. In fact, in the USA, around 40 million adults with ages above 18 suffer from anxiety.
A study conducted by the researchers from the University of Essex showed the effects of taking a walk in nature versus taking a walk in a shopping center. The walk in nature reduced depression scores in 71% of the participants, while the shopping center walk reduced depression scored in only 45% of the participants. Also, 22% of them felt more depressed after walking in the shopping center.
Spending time in nature can be great way to calm yourself and detach from all the things that make you feel stressed and anxious.
Can increase social involvement
Certain activities related to green therapy involve more than one person. Some of them are done in groups, like going for a walk and gardening.
Spending time with other people not only increases social involvement, but it can also lead to reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. This can help you feel more relaxed and have a pleasant experience with other people at the same time.
Can improve one’s self-esteem
Green therapy can help you improve your self-esteem and build up a strong confidence. Spending time with other people, doing enjoyable activities, seeing the results of your work (take gardening, for example) are just a few ways to help you boost your self-esteem.
Also, having a balanced lifestyle, doing regular physical activities, having a restful sleep and reducing stress contribute in a great way to staying positive, feeling filled with energy and confidence.
Green therapy activities and categories:
Agrotherapy and care farming
This type of activity refers to taking care and cultivating crops. It represents a great relaxing, stress-relieving activity that allows interaction with other people.
Agrotherapy and care farming are activities which are usually supervised by a professional. Participants are helped and learn how to grow and take care of their own crops.
Animal assisted therapy
Animal assisted therapy is a more popular activity. It involves several well-trained animals (mostly dogs) and participants who interact with them, under the supervision of professional therapists.
The purpose of this activity is to establish a bond between participants and the animals. They play together, go for walks outside and, basically, have an amazing time.
Animal assisted therapy is great for reducing anxiety, stress levels, improving attention and self-esteem.
Green exercise refers to doing different physical activities in nature. Walking, jogging, cycling, and hiking are just a few examples.
This green exercise has great benefits for the body and the mind. The body consumes energy in a healthy way, the mind relaxes and the direct contact with nature has a positive impact on mental conditions.
Therapeutic horticulture is similar to agrotherapy and care farming, as it involves gardening activities (growing your own fruits and vegetables, taking care of crops). This is also a stress-relieving and relaxing activity.
Wilderness therapy refers to spending time in the wild. It’s an activity which is usually done in groups and it involves tasks like hiking or building shelters.
What you need to keep in mind about this activity is that you will be doing it in the wild corners of nature. Local parks are not typical places to go in this case. Think of nearby forests.
Wilderness therapy provides a direct contact with the wild ‘untouched’ side of nature. This is an activity which definitely improves attention and helps reduce mental blocks. Spending time in wild places can help you feel you can do things you didn’t think you could.
Is green therapy enough?
Green therapy is a great method which can have some amazing benefits in relieving stress, depression, anxiety, and improving attention. Some green therapy should be performed under supervision of a healthcare provider and/or professional therapist.
Green therapy can be a pleasant way to reduce stress, free your mind and relax your body. After having a long day at work, taking a walk in the park before you go home can make miracles for your mood. It can be a great way to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle and gain overall health and wellness.