The healing benefits of being surrounded by nature are well documented and for most of us, being able to access it by walking the dog in the park or opening our back door to a green space can instantly reduce stress and anxiety.

 

 

Even the thought of it is enough.  There has been a study which showed a group of people looking at pictures of the great outdoors before carrying out a task under time pressure, performed much better than those who had been shown an image of an urban scene.

 

 

The beneficial effect of being in nature on the emotional state of the average stressed or anxious person is powerful and this can also be harnessed for those in more severe mental distress but the key is creating a holistic physical environment to bring about recovery.

 

 

For those with poor mental health connecting with nature is not as simple as merely thinking about it especially if even the thought of going outside is a barrier in itself.  In many cases, it is far better to bring nature to the sufferer by incorporating the elements of the outdoors within the therapeutic setting.

 

 

For example, by building a treatment centre in a rural location. A facility in a calm and quiet area with access to open spaces, water and trees is an extension of a more instinctive range of therapies which together serve as tools to aid healing.  In Japan they recommend ‘forest bathing’ where you spend time immersed in nature.  The total sensory experience provided by the surroundings is proven to decrease stress hormones and activate the immune system to fight off illness.

 

 

Experts believe that getting back to nature has never been more pressing because as the modern world takes us further away from it, a significant connection has been broken which serves as a buffer for health. 

 

 

The ability to turn off the negative physiological processes and stimulate the positive is extremely important in the treatment of mental illness and ultimately the true value of being in nature is the ability to recall the experience through mindfulness as a top up for the soul in the post recovery period.