What is Ecotherapy and How Does It Contribute to Brain Health?
Spending time in nature may improve your mood and give your brain the stimulating boost it needs to stay healthy and happy.
Your brain is a three-pound mass of tissues, blood vessels, and nerve cells that is more complex and mysterious than the entire universe. Although advanced imaging techniques are providing valuable insight into how the brain creates consciousness and drives our behavior, we are still left with many questions about this fascinating organ. One of those questions involves why your brain responds almost joyfully when you spend time surrounded by the beauty of nature.
What is Ecotherapy?
Ecotherapy is the clinical term used by psychologists to describe the brain health benefits you receive when immersed in nature. Although taking a walk in the woods or camping out over the weekend is a great way to experience ecotherapy, research shows you don't necessarily have to encounter nature directly. In fact, studies reveal that just looking at photographs of forests and wildlife may improve a person's mood, life satisfaction, and general well-being. Other research results suggest that people living in rural areas report fewer depression and anxiety symptoms than people living in urban areas.
Ecotherapy can also include the following activities:
- Gardening (indoor or outdoor)
- Horseback riding
- Watching nature shows on television
- Visiting aviaries
Stimulate Your Brain with Ecotherapy
Why does spending time in nature contribute to a healthy brain? One thing we understand about the brain is that it must receive external stimulation to continue working properly. In other words, your brain loves to see, smell, taste, hear, and feel things. The more sensory input you give your brain, the better.
This is why ecotherapy is a great way to naturally support brain health. Nature provides the brain with an array of sensations--from the serenity of green leaves and grass, the peaceful warbling of birds, the quiet bubbling of a flowing creek, and the sweet smell of wildflowers warmed by sunlight.
Whether you live in a small town or a busy city, make ecotherapy a part of your lifestyle. Spending just 15 minutes a day soaking in the relaxing ambiance of the woods or a park may do wonders for your mental and emotional health. Also, your brain will love you for it!