What is “eco-therapy”?
According to Howard Clinebell, who wrote a 1996 book on the topic, “ecotherapy” refers to healing and growth nurtured by healthy interaction with the earth. (ecotherapyheals.com)
My definition: the therapeutic effects you feel from getting out and connecting with nature.
We recently went on our first family backpacking trip, and on our drive up to the trailhead I asked everyone “why go backpacking?” What’s the point? What’s the benefit? And we decided we would revisit that question on our way home…
For me, it’s about the sounds, the peacefulness, watching the changing weather and being aware of all the critters scurrying by. It’s about the fresh air (even our 7-year-old commented on how clean the air smelled)! It’s a chance to unplug and just be with family – without distractions!
I love not watching the clock, I love the smell and feel of the campfire, and I love falling asleep while I read a book under the stars. It also ends up being a time for reflection – reflection on what my goals are, what my priorities are, and what’s making me happy.
And since this is a nutrition blog, I love how it’s NOT all about the food. I think we live in a food obsessed world and I am just as much a part of it as everyone else. But, one thing that drives me crazy is when my kids obsess about food. Getting them out in the mountains with just the food in their pack for a couple days is simply therapeutic. Rationing, surviving (it’s yet to be that desperate for us), and being mindful of what the body really needs are lessons that can more easily be taught in the natural world.
Backpacking is a great test of fat adaptation. I used to be motivated by the next snack, the next sandwich, and the next break when hiking. But over the last handful of years, I don’t need the snacks, I don’t bring sandwiches and I’m not motivated by the next break. I can go many hours on much less food and I feel great. “Refreshing” is the best way to describe it.
We would like to get better at packing our food and catching our own food, but for now, we take things like the items shown above.
In my opinion, my family and I are more than lucky to have amazing eco-therapeutic destinations in our backyard! It makes it easier to raise boys that have experience in nature, learning to appreciate it’s importance and how to take care of themselves respectfully in the great outdoors. However, there are many ways to gain from the benefits of eco-therapy in many different types of settings.
1) Early morning walks to the local park…
4) Start and take care of a home garden (raised beds, container planters, or roof-top configurations)…
5) Sleep under the stars…
As you add the healing effects of eco-therapy into your weekly routine, take notice of improved sleep, decreased anxiety, and lower stress.
How can you incorporate nature into your life?