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Green Therapy: Using Nature to Help Your Mental Health

Green Therapy: Using Nature to Help Your Mental Health

The mental health field is constantly discovering new ways to treat and help people who struggle with mental health disorders. Professionals in the field work hard to test new techniques and discover secrets about the brain and how it ties into emotions. More people are becoming aware of the causes of mental health disorders and more treatment facilities are being opened as the need for them increases.

But what if you do not want to use conventional therapies (such as psychotherapy) and medications to feel better? What if you are shy and do not want to interact with people right away? What do you do then?

Luckily there is a method to improve your mental health that has been around since the dawn of time itself, and it is known as green therapy

What Is Green Therapy?

Green therapy is quite simple. It is using nature and all its glory to help treat and manage mental health disorder symptoms. If you have mild symptoms, this can be a great way to help improve your mental health without having to go through treatment programs. In general, it is a wonderful way to help keep your mind positive and give you ways to regulate your emotions healthily and productively. Green therapy can be many things, including;

  • Taking hikes
  • Growing vegetables
  • Setting up bird feeders
  • Having a pot of flowers

Bringing you joy and comfort is the most important part of green therapy.

How Does Green Therapy Help?

Green therapy can help in many ways. Firstly, it gets you active and moving. If you struggle with depression and anxiety, finding the energy or the bravery to go outside can be hard. Luckily, you do not have to be around people at all. When struggling with these disorders, you might enjoy having a quiet, sunny spot under a tree to sit and relax. Nature is quiet, so it gives you a safe place for self-reflection and gives you time away from major triggers to sort out how you are truly feeling.

Exercise has been proven to help with symptoms of depression, so moving about and being active can release serotonin and other endorphins to help you feel better. Sunshine is needed by your body to convert to vitamin D. Deficiencies in this vitamin are known to sometimes cause symptoms of depression as well as seasonal affective disorder.

Having a garden or even something small like a potted plant gives you a reason to get up and participate in the day. Plants need care just like any person and need to be watered and looked after to properly grow. Having something to be responsible for can inspire you to be your best. Being able to watch something flourish, knowing that it was because of you and your hard work, is deeply satisfying and can help improve your mood.

There are several clubs and groups you can join that offer anything from gardening lessons, up to the thrills of exploring the natural world. Making friends with people who enjoy the things you do offers a way to build a support network. A support network is a circle of people you can depend on to care about you and give you support when you need it the most, which is vital for a healthy mind.

Who Uses Green Therapy?

You will find that most places that treat mental health disorders already utilize green therapy. You are most likely to find plants, and even things like fish tanks, in most offices and treatment rooms. These are known to be soothing and make you feel more comfortable than being in a sterile office. For places that offer residential treatment programs, you will find that most have their facilities in rural, wooded areas. This is because they understand the benefits of green therapy and use it to help their patients relax during the healing process. If you struggle with something like a substance use disorder, being able to sit in a garden and watch butterflies flit about can be the distraction you need to resist cravings.

An Example of the Benefits of Green Therapy

Consider the example of growing a garden. Growing a garden takes hard work. It gives you plenty of physical work to help get you to exercise, and thus, releases endorphins. Going outside gives you the sunshine you need for your body to make vitamin D. You need to take care of your garden, so you gain a sense of responsibility. Harvesting the literal fruit of your labors is deeply satisfying. You may be inspired to cook with your vegetables, which gives your mind something to do as you research and try out new recipes.

You may decide to join a gardening club, where you meet new people who quickly become friends that you can trust, giving you a support network of people who share your hobbies and interests. A garden, no matter how small, offers you a private and quiet space to reflect on your thoughts and feelings. Remembering the joy on people’s faces as you give them freshly grown produce can give you the self-esteem and confidence you need in times when you feel low.

This is but a small sample of the benefits that growing a small garden can bring. For more specific ideas about green therapy, talk to a professional you trust about the best way to use this type of therapy to your advantage.

Sometimes when you don’t feel well, you need more than just therapy and medication to help relieve your symptoms. More often than not, treatments that have been around for a long time are dismissed for more clinical forms of treatment.

Here at Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we understand that not everyone needs or wants a clinical approach to their treatment. Here, you can expect the latest in scientific breakthroughs, which continue to praise the use of green therapy in treatment plans. Our professionals are ready to help, either by advising on how to utilize green therapy to your advantage or informing you about our treatment programs, which use nature itself to help with the healing process.

Even average people can benefit greatly from green therapy. If you are curious about green therapy and how it can help you and the people you love, call (949) 649-2339 today.

LMFT, Program Director at Acera Health | Edited & Medically Reviewed

Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.

Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.


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