Nature-based therapy is slowly making its way into the modern healthcare system to treat mental and physical health ailments. Now, Canadian healthcare providers have been given the green light to “prescribe” time in nature to their patients. Let’s take a look at the benefits of nature-based therapy and how you can incorporate it into your busy, everyday life!
Image: Bruno Soares / Unsplash
Canadian Healthcare Providers Are Prescribing “Nature Therapy”
Imagine if a doctor prescribed you with nature, instead of drugs? Now, in four Canadian Provinces — British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario — healthcare providers can prescribe their patients time in nature to improve their mental and physical health!
It’s all part of Canada’s national “Prescription for Nature” (PaRx) program, where national park passes are being offered to patients through Parks Canada and the British Columbia Parks Foundation. These passes allow free admission to 80+ national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites for 1 year.
“This collab with PaRx is a breakthrough for how we treat mental and physical health challenges," said Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
Image: Aidan Hodel / Unsplash
What Is Nature Therapy, And What Are The Benefits?
Humans have benefitted from the connection between nature and health for thousands of years. Our modern understanding of nature therapy — sometimes known as ecotherapy, forest therapy, or green therapy — began with ‘forest bathing.’
In Japan’s high-stress, corporate work culture, overworked patients were prescribed with time in nature to prevent serious ill health. Since then, scientific research into forest bathing has shown to significantly reduce blood pressure and stress levels in patients, as well as have cardiac and pulmonary benefits.
Medical research now clearly shows that as little as 5 minutes in nature can temporarily improve your mood, self esteem and motivation. Ongoing nature therapy can even improve anxiety, depression, addiction, PTSD, loneliness, obesity and more.
Image: John Lee / Unsplash
Nature Therapy Could Revolutionise Medical Treatments
In our fast-paced, technology-driven lives, spending time in nature can feel like a luxury. For city-dwellers, it’s even more difficult to escape the city and reach untouched wilderness. But, it’s clear that our health and wellbeing is dependent on it.
“As somebody who is serious about nature therapy, I hope this becomes as natural and normal as somebody being told to do some meditation. I think that truly getting out in nature should be on the list of prescribed treatment interventions,” said clinical counsellor Tanya Clary.
We don’t fully understand the link between nature and mental health, but some studies suggest that the sounds (trickling water, tweeting birds), smells (earthy smells, fresh fruit), and sights (pictures of trees or water) of nature can help to reduce stress — without stepping outdoors.
Image: Vadim Kaipov / Unsplash
Here’s How You Can Practice Nature-Based Therapy — Every Day!
The good news is that anyone can practice nature-based therapy — you don’t necessarily need a trained professional. For you or a loved one, nature therapy might look like tending to a garden, swimming in the ocean, exploring/hiking through a forest, walking the dog, or doing yoga in a park.
Remember as a kid when you’d wander around and explore nature with bare feet and an open mind? It’s all about channelling that energy, staying in the moment, and appreciating the beautiful surroundings.
If you work a desk job, try incorporate plants, into your space, or listen to ambient sounds of nature. We love diffusing some earthy Essential Oils like Eucalyptus, Lavender, Cedarwood and Pine to feel calm and connected to nature.
What do you think about incorporating nature-based therapy alongside mainstream medicinal treatments?
To discover more reasons why you should spend time in the great outdoors, check out our Eco News category and the blogs below.