Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Nature therapy is simply immersing yourself in a natural environment. This may be a forest, a bushland, a beach or any other natural environment with little or no interference from man-made objects or structures. This means there might be a building nearby, but it seamlessly integrates with the environment and doesn't detract from the natural surrounds.
A review of 64 studies have been summed up by Hansen, Jones and Tocchini (2017) to show that nature therapy as a "health promotion method and potential universal health model is implicated for reduction of reported modern-day "stress-state" and "techno-stress". "
They divided the 64 study results (that they'd found through a phrase search, namely "Shinrin-yoku", "Forest bathing" and/or "natural therapy") into subgroups. They then systematically investigated the findings....
Research indicated therapeutic effects on the immune system, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, mental health (depression, anxiety) as well as mental relaxation (ADHD) and increased feeling of "awe" (Williams, 2016).
The Concept of Nature Therapy (CNT), a model by Song, Ikei and Miyazaki (2016), defines nature therapy as "practices aimed at achieving preventative medical effects through exposure to natural stimuli" and these practices encourage a "state of physiological relaxation and boost the weakened immune functions to prevent diseases". This article also points out that humans have only been living in modern environments for 0.01% of our history. Although humans do have a great ability to adapt, I wonder if we need to return to nature for optimal functioning of our bodies, minds and spirits, even if only for moments or even if all that is available to provide natural re-leaf is a semi-natural man-made park.
Long term effects of nature therapy, such as from longitudinal studies, have not been discovered yet, but at this point the short term side effects are all seemingly positive. Like anything that enables the brain to release endorphins and create a good feeling, it could be addictive.
(If you want to add creativity, take some pretty photos or collect leaves/stones/... and make a temporary art piece on the earth, OR dance!:)
Feel free to contact Louise for guidance with nature and/or creative arts therapy.
Waterfall, nature walk, Sunday 10/3/19, (c) Creative Therapy in Nature
Hansen, M.M., Jones, R., & Tocchini, K. (2017). Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review. International journal of environmental research and public health.
Song, C., Ikei, H., & Miyazaki, Y. (2016). Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy: A Review of the Research in Japan. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,13(8), 781. doi:10.3390/ijerph13080781
Williams, F. (2016). Your Brain on Nature. National Geographic.