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Nature therapy: How nature can heal you in unexpected ways

Nature therapy: How nature can heal you in unexpected ways

Nature therapy: How nature can heal you in unexpected ways
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By Sanhita Baruah  Oct 31, 2022 7:29:23 AM IST (Published)

As adults, most of us do not have the time, space or energy to engage in pursuits that wake our inner child. Did you know that you can take up nature therapy, or eco therapy, under the guidance of a trained therapist, to harness the healing powers of nature to your own benefit? Read on to find out more. 

One of the most awe-inspiring creations in the universe is mother nature. From sky-high mountains to deep blue seas, flat green grasslands, arid deserts and freezing cold glaciers, nature has never failed to astound humankind. Ever since our childhood, we have loved running through the meadows, diving into the river for a swim and dancing in the rain. 

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As adults, most of us do not have the time, space or energy to engage in pursuits that wake our inner child. Did you know that you can take up nature therapy, or eco therapy, under the guidance of a trained therapist, to harness the healing powers of nature to your own benefit? Read on to find out more. 
Nature therapy 
This type of therapy is for everyone, and not restricted to those with mental illness. Under this method of psychotherapy, a trained therapist designs activities to do with you, based on the areas you need to work on. Each type of landscape induces a different type of emotion in human beings, and hence the location and activity will be based on the work you need to do with your psyche. It is known that travelling, or making an outside journey has a direct influence on our psyche. 
One important thing to note with nature therapy is that it does not solely rely on visual impact alone. Actively engaging with nature is mandatory for the treatment to be effective. Let us take a look at the multifarious benefits nature therapy offers.
Inspires hope
In general, people who are connected to nature tend to be happier, or calmer than those who do not have any exposure of the kind. When one undertakes nature therapy, one experiences the feeling of being one with something larger than themselves. Regardless of the landscape, nature has the power of making us believe that we are all connected and that the world is a breathtaking place, whose beauty cannot be savoured in one lifetime. This profound connection takes the participant’s minds off their problems, makes them think in a different perspective and lightens their hearts. 
Increases awareness
Any activity done alongside nature demands all senses be employed, to carry out the task effectively. When a person recluses themselves from the overstimulated world to indulge in a task or activity associated with nature, they slowly become aware of their surroundings. Once they get deeply involved, they tend to be more aware of their surroundings, their actions, its potential consequences and dangers to take note of. This heightened awareness keeps improving and also influences the day-to-day life of the participant. Nature therapy also helps us in developing a deeper connection with nature, as it instils awe and a meaningful association with nature. 
Instils creativity
As per a study carried out among Danish creative professionals and published by Science Direct, it is noted that nature is a significant contributor to humans’ creativity. The fascination induced by the beauty of nature is primarily hard-coded in our brains, which is why we feel excited when we are amidst natural spaces. Nature helps us restore our mental balance, which tends to go askew in our daily lives. Once that balance is restored, we get a fresh perspective on things, which drives us to produce works of art. Engaging with nature also increases brain activity, hence there is increased blood flow to the brain, and improved cognitive ability, we can connect distant dots and bring about amazing pieces of art. This is why many artists (all forms of art) prefer a deep retreat for them to create brilliant creative work.
Reduces anxiety and depression
As per survey findings by the UK-based Mental Health Foundation, 45% of people who took this survey have claimed that visiting green spaces helps them cope through distressed periods of time. Nature therapy impacts the nervous, endocrine and immune system, reducing anxiety considerably. The wilderness of nature paired with rhythmic activities increase the secretion of serotonin, thus drastically reducing anxiety, fear, depression, extreme mood swings and heart rate.
Boosts physical health
It is a no-brainer that nature therapy improves the physique. Taking part in activities that embrace nature and basking in its beauty actually reduces muscle tension and blood pressure. It is also proven that people who spend time with green and blue spaces, such as grasslands and water bodies tend to acquire Natural Killer or NK cells that fight against tumours and infections that try to enter the immune system. 
Enhances cognitive functions
Since nature therapy involves a combination of activities done amidst the vastness of nature, it results in sharpened cognition. The working memory is made better and participants would be better able to perform their day-to-day activities with an increased information retention rate and enhanced attention span. Since the mind is clear of disturbances and overstimulation, controlling attention and switching attention between different tasks becomes much easier, resulting in higher cognitive flexibility. 
Better connection with people
It has been proven beyond doubt that when a human being undertakes an activity in the midst of nature, either alone or with a partner or group, tend to develop a deeper appreciation of one another and feel positively connected to others, mankind in general. One such nature therapy tour is offered by the Unheard Unseen Project in collaboration with an experiential learning platform, Freebirds.co, which is an initiative by like-minded and free-spirited adventurers. In this project, people from different walks of life come together, engage in shared experiences, spend time in quiet reflection and co-create beautiful structures for the locals. This type of engagement with nature, fellow human beings and oneself opens up layers within ourselves that we didn't know existed.  This profound connection to fellow humans is brought about by nature. Since we connect with others while simultaneously connecting with power much bigger than us, the feeling of belonging kicks in, leading to deeper trust and connection among our fellow beings. The new found affinity is found to reduce depression, feelings of isolation and resentment.
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