A Guide to the Healing Power of Nature: Benefits of Forest Therapy and Other Nature-Based Therapies
Nature offers us many ways to heal. From guided forest walks to herbal medicine, spending time outdoors and engaging with the natural world has a wide range of physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. In this guide, we will explore the many healing powers of nature and discuss some of the evidence-based strategies for utilizing these resources to improve health and wellbeing.
What is Nature-Based Therapy?
Nature-based therapy (NBT) is an umbrella term for various therapeutic practices that involve connecting with nature in order to facilitate personal growth, healing, and wellness. It is an integrative approach to healing, based on the belief that natural systems can provide a supportive environment and the resources necessary for restoring and nurturing our individual and collective health. NBT may take the form of forest walks, eco-therapy, nature-based expressive arts, wilderness trips, gardening, and other activities that involve getting outside and engaging with nature.
The Benefits of Forest Therapy
Forest therapy (also known as forest bathing) is a type of NBT that promotes physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing through intentional walking in the woods or in a natural environment. Studies show that forest therapy can reduce stress, improve mood and concentration, boost immune system function, and provide a greater sense of connectedness to the environment.
Other Nature-Based Therapies & Practices
In addition to forest therapy, there are many other forms of NBT that can bring healing and health benefits. Herbalism is an ancient practice that utilizes plants and other botanicals to create remedies and tonics that can help to alleviate physical and emotional ailments. Wildcrafting and foraging allow us to source and use plants, nuts, and mushrooms growing seasonally in nature. Animal-assisted therapy involves beings in nature, such as horses, dogs, and dolphins that can help to facilitate healing and communication.
Nature and its healing powers provide us with a range of therapeutic options and opportunities for self-care. The evidence-based benefits of forest therapy and other nature-based therapies underscore the importance of getting outside and connecting with the natural world. For those looking to explore the many therapeutic benefits of nature and ecotherapy, this guide has provided an introduction to the many healing powers of nature.