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nature

Eco therapy or the growing field of outdoor practices connects us to the healing benefits of nature. Decrease stress, improve your immune response, lower your blood pressure and make your sleep more peaceful by using these strategies.

Go outside. Researchers in the United States and Japan have determined that simply being in nature helps lower blood pressure. Is it the view? Or the smell of trees? Maybe walking on a trail or looking for signs of spring?
People suffering from stress, illness or a trauma can benefit from spending quiet time in nature to heal. Explore walking in the gardens, hiking in the mountains, or walking trails in the woods. Nature is not only wilderness. The benefits of nature can also be found in our communities’ parks and green spaces. If you enjoy hiking outdoors, great! Researchers have linked lowered blood pressure and improved immune response to exercising outdoors. They found that being physically active outside increases these benefits more than the same activity completed inside or in urban settings.

Once you are outside, move! Regular exercise has been proven to help control depression and reduce stress. Try movements you enjoy, such as biking, walking or gardening. An added bonus includes exercises that focus the mind on the present movement. Dance, yoga and martial arts have all been shown to have excellent stress-relief benefits.

Be mindful.
Spend time each day to ground and center your mind. This helps bring focus and peace to your daily life. How do you do this? Relax and breathe deeply or focus on your breath. Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, on purpose in the present moment. For example, pay more attention as you’re brushing your teeth, taking a shower or taking a walk outdoors. Zero in on the sight, smell, sound, taste and feel of these activities. Mindfulness is a practice that trains your brain to be more efficient and better integrated with less distractions and improved focus. It reduces stress and helps you become your best self.

Written by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, The Ohio State University, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, The Ohio State University, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Resources: http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/nature-therapy-ecotherapy

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