The benefits of nature
A deeper intimacy with natural places can help us connect better with our bodies and ourselves.
There is growing evidence that being connected to nature in some way has many physical and psychological benefits.
Just a few moments of green – whether it’s a city park or a green garden – can improve cognition, and even the sounds of nature have been shown to be beneficial.
One Danish study found that children who had access to more green space had a lower risk of developing psychological troubles later in life. Other researchers have found that a sense of connectedness with nature overlaps with a general sense of connectedness, to friends, the social world, and to life.
Eco therapy is a branch of psychology which says that being disconnected from ourselves can also involve a disconnect from our environment, and the natural world. This could mean feeling disconnected from a slower pace of living, from food, the seasons and our bodies. Our current experience of climate crisis has heightened, for many of us, a longing to preserve and cherish the natural world.
The psychologist Carl Rogers said that “Every individual exists in a continually changing world of experience of which he is the centre” (1951) and that, “The organism reacts to the field as it is experienced and perceived. This perceptual field is, for the individual, reality” (1951)
By gently moving through the natural world, and noticing how we walk and feel, we can realign ourselves at the centre of our experience, and feel part of a greater whole.
References and links:
Berman, M., Schertz, K., Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol.
28, No. 5, 2019
Bratman, G., Science Advances, Vol. 5, No. 7, 2019.
Engemann, K., et al., PNAS, Vol. 116, No. 11, 2019.
Lee, K.E., et al., Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2015).
Rogers, C., (1951). Client-Centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory. London: Constable.
Van Hedger, S.C., et. al., Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2019.
Zelensky, J., et al., Environment and Behavior, Vol. 46, No. 1, 2014.