In the past few years, more and more people have chosen to use online methods for consulting doctors. Talk therapy also is changing, adding online and even outdoor sessions to the typical in-office appointments.
Outdoor therapy, also known as nature therapy, not only offers a safe and socially distanced alternative, but the benefits of being in nature make it an even better solution.
Nature therapy is literally taking the session outdoors into nature, either walking or finding a spot and sitting. This can be a park, forest, hiking trails, botanical garden, etc. that offers green space and privacy.
Of course, outdoor therapy is not new, it’s just been given new life recently.
Spending time outdoors has been linked to less anxiety, fewer depression symptoms, lower stress levels and even helps kids with attention problems think more clearly. The benefits of nature therapy are linked to positive changes in many areas including ADHD, dementia, stress, moods, PTSD, obesity and medical recovery.
Nature therapy also is called green care, green exercise or green therapy because its powerful benefit lies in spending time in green spaces, but nature therapy also includes aquatics like calming blue oceans, rivers and lakes, all of which have a psychologically restorative effect.
Walking with a therapist outdoors can benefit both patient and professional.
One study found that walking significantly increases creative output up to 60%. This means both therapists and clients may see new solutions in different ways.
It also helps that walking side by side means looking ahead rather than face to face in a traditional setting, giving the mind a chance to wander. For some people with social anxiety, walking side by side can lessen that anxiety level.
If walking isn’t an option, perhaps gardening, art or photography can be added to outdoor therapy. The possibilities are endless because there are so many activities that one can do outside.
Finally, on top of the mental-health benefits of nature therapy, just think of the exercise you’ll be getting. And not only exercise but being outdoors means absorbing a bit more vitamin D, which can strengthen the immune system and even aid in weight loss.
Ask if nature therapy is an option for you. You never know, it might be just what the doctor ordered.