How does Nature help Mental Health?

How does Nature help us with our Mental Health? Growing research is building a picture of the link between nature therapy as an effective approach to improving mental health in various ways. People are turning to the outdoors to balance out and feel well again.

Like a sacred sound journey ‘re-connecting’ the listener with something of a primordial time, spaces of healing are shifting towards the outdoors -by trees, mountains, rivers, ocean. Indigenous communities, living in harmony with nature ever since ancient times, hold much in their way of life that can hopefully ‘re-mind’ us of this, or even ‘re-teach’ us .

In addition to this affinity for the outdoors, we seek practices born centuries ago, such as yoga and breathwork, mindfulness and meditation as healing systems known to build a sense of union and wholeness.

In this light, acknowledging the therapeutic role of nature makes it ever more pertinent that we take much greater care to protect our eco-systems and re-learn how to live within a coherent whole again…

Does everyone have anxiety nowadays?

Mental Health Awareness

The statistical reports are out there: anxiety worldwide -across the board -is seeing a prominent rise. For example, according to a recent UNICEF report, anxiety and depression constitute more than 40% of mental-health disorders among young people (those aged 10–19). “This points to an urgent need for better prevention and treatment of youth anxiety and depression worldwide. The overarching message that emerges from these reviews is that there is no ‘silver bullet’ for preventing and treating anxiety and depression in young people — rather, prevention and treatment will need to rely on a combination of interventions that take into account individual needs and circumstances”.

Young people’s mental health is finally getting the attention it needs (nature.com)https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02690-5

Interwoven with these ‘interventions’, we need natural spaces to heal our children. Our deeper gut feelings say there is something urgently wrong. Until we shift and work together towards healing our planet and slow down, the best diets, medications, and therapy sessions can only address the issues of mental and physical health in our societies up to a point.

How does nature help mental health?

NATURE: an old remedy for our modern day anxiety & burnout…The calming, harmonious, coherent sounds of nature may help your nervous system recover faster than sounds from traffic and other hectic city or suburbia noises.

Nature is a solution to mental health, with conditions such as anxiety, depression and burnout in the following ways:

  • Greater resilience to stress
  • Coping better with post-traumatic
    stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Coping with addiction
  • Reconnection with self &
    strengthening of self-worth
  • Nervous system recovery
  • Greater work-life balance
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Improved concentration
  • Improved well-being overall

References:

What is ecotherapy? | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02690-5

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-20/how-a-restorative-city-can-boost-mental-health

https://www.news24.com/witness/news/mental-health-is-the-biggest-threat-in-2021-sa-society-of-psychiatrists-20210209

https://www.ajmc.com/view/mental-health-issues-on-the-rise-among-adolescents-young-adults

-By Nicolette Da Costa

Our last issue of B & E Africa looked at gardening for mental health and how to attract wildlife into your garden enhancing green spaces as richer —more biodiverse ecosystems —immediately right outside your back door.

Now, let’s go to the beach!

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