The benefits of using nature as therapy

(Courtesy Dr. Josefina Monasterio)

(Courtesy Dr. Josefina Monasterio)

For millennia, our ancestors have existed in a very close relationship with the natural world. We have been intrinsically connected to the rhythms of our natural environment, from our water and food, to the changing of the seasons. As humans we seem to have an innate need to be close to nature and living things. We seem drawn, almost unconsciously, to activities which involve the natural environment.

It is only in more recent times, largely due to industrialization and urbanization, that man has become more and more disconnected and isolated from the natural world. People in industrialized nations now spend more than 90 percent of their lives indoors. Our time spent outside, surrounded by nature, is estimated at only 1 to 5 percent. In our modern society, that in-built need for relationship with nature has become disrupted, leaving us unbalanced and open to a variety of mental and emotional problems.

Most people are already aware of the beneficial psychological effects of simply being on a beach, paddling in a stream, or walking in a forest or the mountains. I’m sure it is no accident that we are drawn to areas of natural beauty when taking our holidays. The human need for nature is not just linked to use of its resources, but it also has an influence on our emotional state, thought processes, physical health, and even spiritual well-being.

Compared to many traditional talking therapies, eco-therapy is often focused much more on experiential learning. Participants are forced to learn to appreciate being present in the “here and now” and immerse themselves in the environment and activities. Because of this, change can often occur without the lengthy discussion often associated with many talking therapies.

You can develop greater awareness of your own strengths through the use of the natural environment and challenging nature-based activities. This can also build trust and motivation in yourself, and others, as well as reduce anger, depression, anxiety and stress.

Mankind’s use of nature to enhance well-being, physically, mentally and spiritually, has been around probably as long as humans have existed.

I make it my daily practice to get up at 4am. I then pray, meditate and read the scriptures. By 5am, I am out the door for my morning walk/run with nature, which brings me close to God. I walk literally looking up to the sky in awe of the immense beauty of the sun, the birds singing happily for a new day, and the smell of jasmine and other scents of trees and flowers. Then I do my yoga, and finally, I jump in the blue ocean to feel the warm water healing my soul.

Personally, these disciplines have brought me unlimited growth and understanding of my purpose.

Look around you, and try a nature regimen that works for you!

DrJosefinaBioDr. Josefina Monasterio is a certified life coach, fitness expert, and nutritional counselor based in Vero Beach, Florida. She holds a PhD in Adult Personal Development from Nova University and a Master’s Degree in Education from Boston University. Dr. Josefina is also a certified Yoga Therapist from the World Yoga Society of Calcutta, India, and host of Healthy Power TV’s “The Dr. Josefina Way.”