Seeking Happiness and Health in Nature – Using Ecotherapy to Treat Depression

Spending time outdoors amid nature is a great way to unwind. Being in unison with nature comes with a lot of benefits that include happiness, health, and peace of mind. Enjoying the benefits of nature thus also helps keep depression at bay. According to a 2013 study by researchers from the University of Essex, being in the midst of nature helps us fight depression, improve our mental health and well-being.

Known as Green Therapy, or Ecotherapy, nature’s bounty is now even being utilized to cure mental conditions, particularly depression. The study, which was published by the mental health organization Mind, says that taking a walk out in nature is known to reduce depression by 71 percent in people.

How Ecotherapy helps in depression

The researchers conducted the study with two groups – one group was asked to walk in nature, while the controlled group was asked to take a walk in a shopping center. Only 45 percent of the people of the controlled group who walked in the shopping center had reduced depression, while 22 percent experienced more depression.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said, “Our research shows people commissioning mental health services and social care that a holistic treatment like Ecotherapy delivers not only health benefits but wider social benefits and cost savings that medication could not.”

Mind, which has funded several programs that promote activities like gardening and environmental conservation work, believes that such therapies can make a huge difference in addressing mental health of people. They found that almost 69 percent people have enjoyed a sense of wellbeing after participating in such nature activities.

Let us look at the ways nature can actually make us feel better, making us happier and healthier:

Living near trees is linked to happiness and health

Living in an area which has more trees can actually contribute to happiness and both physical and mental health. This may be due to the reason that more trees mean lesser pollution, people getting out to exercise, and trees calming people.

Living close to nature boosts creativity

Taking a walk in the park has resolved more issues than scratching the head for solutions in the cubicle. When people walk, solutions to various problems tend to come, which shows that spending time in nature boosts creativity in people. When creativity is unleashed, people loosen up and become less anxious.

Spending time in nature improves energy

There are various studies that have established that walking, exercising and other physical activities in the open result in heightened energy level. According to a series of experiments published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, even taking a 15-minute walk in nature or visualizing about nature provides instant energy to participants. If just imagining about nature can have positive results, spending time in nature will do wonders for sure.

Treating depression and improving mental conditions are the most beneficial outcomes of Ecotherapy. Another recent study by Stanford University also revealed that spending time in nature could be an effective prescription for certain mental health conditions. Therefore, not just patients, but everyone should be encouraged to spend time in nature for health and happiness.