The Impact of Nature on Mental Health: Exploring Ecotherapy and Healing

Written by: Zafra Aswar Ali 

In the current, technological era, we often yearn for a connection with nature. However, this modern lifestyle can hinder us from experiencing it. According to research, spending oneself in natural surroundings can positively impact one’s mental health. As a result, a new area of study called ecotherapy has emerged and aims to put forward the fact that nature is therapeutic and spending time in nature is a priority. 

In this article, we will explore what is ecotherapy, the types of ecotherapy, its effect on mental health, and how to make it a part of your daily routine. 

Understanding Ecotherapy 

Ecotherapy, also referred to as nature therapy or green therapy arises from a new field called ecopsychology. The primary concept of ecotherapy focuses on the importance of human beings connecting with nature as a therapeutic intervention and making use of its healing power to get rid of mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression as a means of improving overall psychological well-being. 

The emergence of ecotherapy roots back to the traditional Indian medical system of Ayurveda which provides treatment to both physical and mental illnesses with the aid of nature or other methods that involve nature according to the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Likewise, John Hopkins has reported that traditional Chinese medicine is grounded in the ideologies of nature. 

Types of Ecotherapy 

1. Horticulture therapy – This includes gardening, taking care of plants, or simply being around them. 

2. Wilderness therapy – This therapy includes choosing remote areas to practice ecotherapy. This is done by making the individuals engage in camping or hiking in such locations while instructing and training them for survival. 

3. Forest healing – This is a great way of improving your mental health by enjoying the forest surroundings. It is linked to the practice of the Japanese known as “shinrin-yoku” or ‘forest bathing’. 

4. Animal-assisted therapy – As the word suggests this ecotherapy takes place by being around animals. It can happen indoors with a domestic pet or even on a farm setting. 

5. Green exercise – This is simply referred to as engaging in any form of outdoor physical activity like gardening, cycling, walking, and jogging. 

Mental Health Benefits of Ecotherapy 

  1. Alleviates stress and anxiety 
    • The nature consists of a soothing effect that can heal the nervous system. Thus, levels of stress and anxiety would be largely reduced when spending time during ecotherapy interventions. 
  2. Enhances coping skills 
    • Nature provides a means of developing one’s coping mechanism. As a result, it leads to increased resilience when dealing with challenges in natural surroundings. 
  3. Increases confidence 
    • As ecotherapy brings about a sense of achievement, when completing nature-related activities like gardening, it is known to boost your levels of confidence. 
  4. Better awareness of the body and mind 
    • Individuals who engage in ecotherapy will have a better idea about their overall well-being and will continuously attempt to improve their states of mind and body. Moreover, it becomes an opportunity for self-reflection. 
  5. Ability to build social connection 
    • When ecotherapy sessions are conducted as a group, it paves the way to build meaningful social connections. Consequently, the sense of isolation is minimized in such settings. 


Nature can improve one’s mental health calmly and soothingly. Therefore, ecotherapy is an excellent method that eases mental health issues. Remember, it cannot be substituted with the professional therapeutic approaches, but it can be incorporated with them for a better result. Overall, whether ecotherapy is done with the help of a professional or followed in one’s daily life through simple activities related to nature, it aids in connecting with nature aiming to strike a balance between self-care and a hectic lifestyle.