What Is Nature Therapy and Who Can Benefit From It?

couple biking

Did you know that the human race has spent 99.99% of its time living in the great outdoors? It’s true! But nowadays, most of us spend our lives cooped up indoors, which can really take a toll on our mental and physical health.

That’s where nature therapy comes in – by reconnecting with nature, we can reduce stress and improve our overall well-being.

The practice of “forest bathing” in Japan, also known as shin-rin yoku, is often credited as the inspiration for modern nature therapy, but the roots of this approach go back thousands of years.

Nature therapy uses the healing power of nature to improve mental and physical well-being. Activities like hiking and gardening can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, while improving mood, concentration, and overall health. Reconnecting with nature provides a break from the stresses of modern life.

What is Nature Therapy For?

The goal of nature therapy is to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, while also improving mood, concentration, and overall health.

The benefits of reconnecting with nature are numerous and scientifically proven, and it only takes a few minutes of outdoor time to start feeling the effects. Whether you’re dealing with mental health issues or simply looking for a way to unwind and recharge, nature therapy offers a powerful and natural solution.

Types of Nature Therapy

Over the years, several forms of nature therapy have been developed to target different audiences. A lot of these therapies can be pursued alone, but many benefit from operating in conjunction with the assistance of a mental health professional.

Anyone can enjoy the peaceful elements of nature without needing to seek out a clinic or doctor. It’s important to note that if you’re seeking additional help through nature therapy, it’s always a good idea to contact a professional first. It’s possible to have miseducative experiences and do more harm than good.

Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy is based on participating in outdoor recreational adventure activities ranging from rock climbing and mountain biking to whitewater rafting or long-distance backpacking.

Many treatment programs will utilize camping as one of their main methods of adventure therapy, providing the opportunity to be outdoors for longer.

If you want to try it out on your own, gather some basic supplies and find a quiet spot. Tents don’t cost a fortune (at least not all of them), and you can make it easier on yourself with an ultralight backpack.

We have a great article with tips and tricks on how to sleep better while camping so that you can get the full benefits from your time in nature.

Adventure therapy is often done with others, both for companionship and safety purposes. This might be a good option for those seeking stronger relationships and who feel happier when they’re with others.

Dark Therapy

Dark nature therapy can refer to a type of nature therapy that takes place outdoors at night, such as stargazing or moonlit walks.

This approach aims to help people connect with nature in a different way and can be particularly helpful for those who may have limited time during the day to spend outdoors or who live in urban areas with a lot of light pollution.

Spending time in nature at night or stargazing can be beneficial for individuals dealing with various mental health challenges. It can be particularly helpful for those experiencing stress, anxiety, and insomnia.

The quiet and peaceful atmosphere of the night can also provide a sense of calmness and help individuals to relax and unwind.

Moreover, exposure to natural darkness at night can help regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm and improve sleep quality, which can have a positive impact on mental health.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that outdoor activities at night can also pose certain risks, such as tripping or encountering wild animals, so it’s essential to take proper safety precautions.

Conservation Therapy

This approach combines elements of nature therapy and conservation education, and often involves activities such as hiking, wildlife observation, and participation in conservation projects.

The goals of conservation therapy include reducing stress and promoting relaxation, improving mood and self-esteem, fostering a deeper connection with the natural world, and promoting environmental awareness and stewardship.

Research has shown that engaging with nature in this way can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being, as well as lead to greater pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors.

Conservation therapy can be particularly helpful for individuals who feel disconnected from nature or who are struggling with stress or anxiety related to environmental issues. It is often used in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or mindfulness-based therapy.

Therapeutic Horticulture

Getting your hands dirty can actually make your brain release more serotonin, making you instantly happier. The bacteria found in soil activates your brain cells, just like antidepressant medication.

This is only one of the several reasons why therapeutic horticulture is one of the more popular methods of nature therapy. You get to go outside, plant a garden or flowers, and in the process, make something beautiful. This can be incredibly powerful for naturally creative people who want a place to channel that energy.

Therapeutic Farming

Farming can be an entire process in which you get to create something that gives back in the form of food. You get all the benefits of traditional nature therapy, with the responsibility of caring for and maintaining a farm.

These “care farms” are abundant in Europe and are now making their way toward the United States. As more and more of them pop up, therapeutic farming will continue to grow and help many people feel better through agricultural practices.

How to Get Started With Nature Therapy

Nature therapy can be as simple as setting aside some time to get outside and soak up the sunshine. You can find a local trail to hike with a friend or just sit in your backyard and spend some time in the fresh air.

Find ways to learn more about nature therapy, whether reading up on the topic or going out and looking locally for any practices that may promote it. These are often individual life coaches, mentors, or groups that get out with the goal of healing time in nature.

Not all nature therapy needs to be performed by a clinician, so find a resource you feel comfortable with and try it out.