In Minnesota, we’re just emerging from a winter of winters. Twin Cities statistics (kept since the 1870s) rank 2013-2114 the ninth coldest average temperature from December-February (9.7 degrees) and the fifth highest number of sub-zero days (50). It’s time to warm up to the concept of being out in nature again! My colleague from British Columbia, Anna Bowness-Park, shares how the great outdoors is great for our inner and outer health. (Spoiler alert: there are terrific quotes at the end!) Here’s Anna…
The understanding that nature benefits our mental and physical health seems obvious. However, the outdoors is now being touted as a new therapy called “ecotherapy” – or restorative contact with nature. What scientists have been studying is what our mothers and grandmothers already knew – that being outside is good for us. In fact, being out in nature, according to studies, is as good for us an anti-depressant or some other medications.
And, there’s another new term coined by scientists who are studying the effect of a lack of nature in our lives. It’s called “nature deficit disorder”, which of course ecotherapy is called upon to correct.
What these new names do for me is to complicate and medicalize what should be a natural and simple activity.
For many people, being outdoors can be a restorative – even spiritual – experience, whether it is conscious or not.