Ecotherapy is the practice of using nature to improve mental and emotional wellbeing. We will all go through tough times in our lives and periods of uncertainty, even more so now when we are having to follow social distancing as this only heightens our emotions.
Mental health is of growing concern and while it is upsetting that the figures continue to rise with people suffering, it’s of great comfort that it is now taken more seriously and openly discussed without shame or stigma.
Everyone will have a different experience of lockdown during Coronavirus and have their own ways of getting through. I’m blessed to have my boys and husband with me but I have to say its been a rocky ride with homeschooling, constant bickering and fear of anyone I love getting infected.
This is when I went onto the Mind UK website and came across Ecotherapy, I fell in love with the convenience of being able to step outside and find therapy for when I’m feeling anxious.
Being a photographer, I used photography as a creative outlet and paired it with the beauty of my surroundings. The idea is to not capture what I would normally, but to pay closer attention to the little things, and not just visually but the sounds and smells of nature and really take it all in. Fresh air cleanses the soul and reminds me of how much to be thankful for.
Now I always take my camera on our little strolls; I have noticed so many things that I would normally walk by without a second glance. I now pay attention to the abstract patterns in tree trunks, I look up more to the blue sky peeping thorough the pastel blossom on tree, I’m not sure why moss makes me think of a fairy gardens though?!
By observing the beauty of the outside world, it takes my mind off what negativity may be going on inside.
My passion is portraiture but right now nature is essential, it’s incredible, spiritual and ours to love, treasure and take care of.
I have put together a list of things that you can do under the umbrella term of Ecotherapy and links to Local activities and charities practicing the holistic benefits of this:
- Go for a walk.
Whether in your garden, down the street, or in the closest park.
- Sit outside and breathe and take in scents of nature.
What smells can you pick up wafting gently in the air? Rosemary? Rose? Lavender? Nature is an incredible aromatherapist.
- Walk on grass with your bare feet.
Find a clean patch of grass, and let your feet feel the ground.
- Sit under a tree (or hug it if you are brave).
Yes, I know this sounds a bit hippy, simply sitting with your back against a tree is an effective way to get back in touch with yourself.
- Go bird-spotting.
How many birds or butterfly can you name?
- Go collecting.
If you live near the ocean or near a woodland get creative and go on the lookout for beautiful natural trinkets, you could collect them for an art project?
- Look up at the sky or look out over a lake or pond.
The sky and water are some of the most soothing aspects of nature. The sky is so vast, when I look up I feel so small in the grand scheme of things and sometimes so do my worries.
- Plant a small garden.
Nurturing and tending to life is immensely soothing and rewarding. You could choose to plant flowers, herbs, vegetables or fruit.
- Take a camera with you.
Use your time in nature to free your inner artist, nature offers numerous scenes of beauty.
- Collect flowers.
Collect and press flowers by flattening them out in a heavy book. You could use them for hand-made cards or any project.
Just a quick note – Ecotherapy is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical treatment or therapy, but I believe it can be a beneficial help to your wellbeing.
West Kent Mind, Let’s Grow’ allotment project: Tending to the vegetables and flowers, playing with wood, monitoring the wildlife, and creating a positive and supportive space.
West Kent Mind, Take Root project: This programme is designed to help people improve health and wellbeing by connecting them to their community and with nature, by taking part in conservation-based programmes, walks and workshops.
Information on formal ecotherapy programmes, and where to find out more:
The Conservation Volunteers: Runs a network of Green Gyms across the UK.
Grow Wild UK: Kew Gardens outreach initiative that aims to bring people together to enjoy wildflowers and nature.
Thrive: Charity that runs gardening projects for people with mental health problems:
National Garden Scheme: Lists gardens and walks open to the public across England and Wales.
Bumblebee Conservation Trust: Aims to protect and raise awareness of bumblebees.