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Welcome to 2020

New Years is the perfect time to reflect on the past and to get a fresh start on the year to come which brings me to a top trend that has made a difference for many, myself included. It’s called Ecotherapy – a term coined by pastoral counselor Howard Clinebell. Ecotherapy is the name given to a wide range of treatment programs aimed to improve your mental and physical well-being through outdoor activities in nature. Ecotherapy is more than a walk in the park or watching a beautiful sunset. It’s a complete immersion into nature where all five senses (sight, smell, touch, taste and sound) are engaged for a period of days, ideally five to completely decompress. It’s actually a form of treatment that can help with healing depression, fear, anger and anxiety by restoring our connection to the natural world.

According to The Global Wellness Summit, wellness retreats are on the rise, simply because people want to connect with nature. After all, connecting with nature can have positive health benefits. For example, the National Academy of Science found that a daily 1-hour walk in a natural setting lowered depression levels, anxiety and migraines. Yet we live in a time when our society has never been more isolated from nature, something Ecotherapy helps to solve.

Whether you work at a desk job or simply indoors, life in general can be fast-paced. Somewhere our generation has forgotten the importance of being outside, breathing in the clean, crisp air, listening to and fully taking in nature’s beauty. Take time to enjoy Mother Nature’s playground. It’s free and completely accessible to anyone, anytime. A change from our day to day work schedules, will make you feel centered and with a fresh perspective.

Here are some other benefits of Ecotherapy:

  1. Reduce stress (disconnect from press of everyday life)
  2. Stay grounded
  3.  Keep a positive attitude
  4. Boost your immune system
  5. Reduce anger and fear (yes, even viewing scenes of nature has been proven to reduce stress)

The next time you have a huge task ahead, or an important decision to make, go spend some time outside and you will see how therapeutic it is to be surrounded by trees, plants, flowers, mountains and water. Some of you may be doing this already and not realize how beneficial this actually is.

Most of us are excited to start the New year. I know I am. Looking back on this past year it’s been fun to reflect on the accomplishments, projects that need finishing and even making some new goals. And I would also suggest it’s a perfect time to get outdoors and take in all that nature has to offer before you consider the next set of challenges you might be facing. Give it a try and even if you just want to feel gratitude for a year gone well, I think a little Ecotherapy will give you the fresh start you deserve.

Written by Monique deGroot

Monique deGroot is the owner of Murrieta Day Spa in Murrieta.

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