A Breath of Fresh Air
Think of a time you felt at peace.
Think of a happy place.
Breathe in, breathe out.
For me, the images are those of the natural world: pine trees, desert expanses, waterfalls, and distant mountains. I think of natural greens and oranges and pinks, a big blue sky. Time slows down and I feel relief, peace, and calm. Nature has a way of cleansing my mind and allowing me to reset.
Research shows that connection to the natural can be psychologically restorative. One name for this is ecotherapy: alleviating symptoms related to anxiety, stress, and depression, while increasing health, social connection, and self-esteem. We tend to think of nature as being somewhere far away; but connection can be made in parks, botanical gardens, urban garden centers, or even by taking a 15-minute walk to relieve stress and connect with the beauty of the world.
Ecotherapy is an emerging area of treatment, the research into which is confirming what many have intuitively known: healing on the inside can begin with what we do outside. This has huge implications for personal health and self-care as social workers, as well as health and mental-health issues that clinical social workers address in their work.
How can we incorporate eco-therapy to care for ourselves? Have you used the power of nature to help in the healing process for your clients? Please comment!