We have come a long way in a relatively short period of time. What I mean by that is that it wasn’t very long ago that humans were spending the majority of their time outside farming, hunting, gathering, and traveling. Of course, we have come a long way since then, and now studies have shown that the average American spends around 96% of their life indoors. Between houses, buildings, and automobiles, people usually spend as little time outdoors as they can, only using their outdoor time to move between buildings and automobiles.
Most people would agree that this change has been for the better—we no longer need to worry very much about severe weather, such as snow or wind, and we are able to regulate the temperatures of our surroundings to make us more comfortable. While there are a lot of benefits that come with living indoors, humans are naturally outdoor creatures. There is a part of us that longs to be outdoors, and spending more time outside can be very beneficial.
The benefits that come from spending time outdoors are significant and beneficial enough that some forms of therapy incorporate spending time in nature into their treatment programs. Nature therapy offers some incredible benefits that are not found elsewhere. There is something about spending time outdoors that is therapeutic. Here are some of the life-changing effects of nature therapy.
Lowers Levels of Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
Spending time in nature can have significant impacts on mental health. Nature therapy has been shown to decrease levels of stress, depression, and anxiety by lowering levels of cortisol, a chemical that has been linked to stress. Additionally, there are essential oils and certain scents that are found in nature that have a calming and uplifting effect on the body as well. Lavender is one of these. Lavender is often used in aromatherapy to relax the body and induce sleep.
Teaches New Skills
Nature therapy does not consist solely of standing outside doing nothing. Often, nature therapy programs consist of outdoor activities and adventures that teach the participants new skills. Some of these skills include skiing, horseback riding, archery, mountaineering, and more. Learning new skills has been shown to increase happiness and confidence, as well as strengthening a person’s determination.
Replaces Bad Habits
It is well-known that the best way to rid oneself of a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. Because of this, substance abuse rehabilitation programs often use adventure therapy as part of their treatment modalities. Not only does spending time outdoors prevent the recovering addicts from abusing substances, but it also acts as a replacement habit that they can use to cope with their emotions without needing to depend on drugs or alcohol.
Fosters Good Qualities
People who engage in nature therapy and the outdoor activities that are a part of nature therapy naturally develop good qualities. Integrity, dependability, and maturity are some of these. The challenges they face during their adventures are real and demanding, and they often require teamwork, thoughtfulness, creativity, and determination to solve. Because the participants are engaging in real-world activities that test their grit, they naturally develop or strengthen many other good qualities that will benefit other aspects of their lives as well.
Nature therapy is often used for behavioral reformation programs that work with teenagers and young adults. Part of the reason is that it teaches responsibility. Many teenagers and young adults do not understand responsibility or refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Nature therapy is a way for them to learn the importance of responsibility in a fun and non-threatening way.
Strengthens Interpersonal Skills
Many people have problems with developing and/or maintaining interpersonal relationships. People with mental health problems or substance abuse addictions are especially impaired in this department. Because the activities that nature therapies organize involve so much teamwork and communication, participating in nature therapy strengthens interpersonal skills. This is an incredible benefit because interpersonal skills are important to have for every aspect of a person’s life.