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Let's talk about: Ecotherapy

Introducing our 'Let's talk about' series where, each week, we will be talking about mental health and camping. This week we're talking Ecotherapy and how it can help lower stress and anxiety

Sometimes we all feel a little down; work and other problems in our home life can stress us out and leave us feeling anxious, and sometimes depressed. But you should never bottle up your feelings and keep them to yourself. The first step is recognising that something is wrong and from there you should talk to someone and get the help you need to get you feeling yourself again.

It has been proven that getting outside, into green spaces, forests and generally amongst nature, can help relieve us of stress, mild anxiety, fatigue and low mood. The act of getting outdoors to treat these conditions is called ecotherapy.

Visit our Mental Wellbeing Hub to find out more about the benefits of nature and camping, advice, tips and charities and organisations that can help if you aren't feeling 100%.

What is ecotherapy?

Ecotherapy is a type of therapeutic treatment that involves spending time outside in the natural environment, focusing on outdoor activities rather than health to improve mental wellbeing.

The ideas behind this sort of therapy are certainly nothing new. In the 6th century BC, Cyrus the Great planted a garden in the newly-founded Persian Empire to benefit human health.

Fast-forward to the 1950s, researchers begun to study why people chose to spend time in nature. The term ‘Shinrin-yoku’, which translates literally to ‘forest bathing’, originated in Japan in the 1980s. In 1996, the term ‘ecotherapy’ was coined.

Anyone can suffer from mental health problems but some people are more likely than others...

These groups tend to be (but are not always) minority groups that face discrimination and bullying, which impacts their mental health. Younger people are also increasingly more likely to report common mental health issues. Those who have overlapping problems such as homelessness, substance misuse and contact with the criminal justice system are also 40% more likely to experience decreased mental wellbeing at any given time.

Those who identify as LGBTQ+ are almost 3x more likely than heterosexual people to suffer from mental issues. This is attributed to discrimination, homophobia or transphobia, social isolation, rejection, and difficult experiences of coming out.

About 23% of black and black British people experience problems with their mental wellbeing in any given week. This is compared to 17% of white British people. People from minority communities often face individual and societal challenges that can affect access to healthcare and overall mental and physical health.

Over 25% of young women aged between 16-24 report having mental health problems in any given week. Social and economic factors can put women at greater risk of poor mental health than men.

Men are three times more likely to take their own lives due to struggles with mental illness than women. Men are much less likely to talk to loved ones or health professionals about how they are feeling.


Five reasons why camping is good for you

Gets you active Walking and other activities raise the heart rate and stimulate metabolism, helping us shed calories and give our muscles, heart and lungs a workout.

Resets your circadian rhythms Camping holidays mean we are more exposed to natural light and less electric light, improving sleep and readjusting internal functions.

Increases your intake of fresh air Spending time in fresh air cleans our lungs, helping us breathe more deeply, ensuring more oxygen is delivered to our cells.

Helps lower stress Being physically and mentally removed from everyday life, including our busy work and home lives, can help us put things into perspective.

Tops up vitamin D levels Sunlight promotes the production of vitamin D in the skin, which supports calcium absorption to keep our bones strong.

“Spending just two hours a week in a natural environment can be enough to boost our health”

Studies have also shown that daily contact with nature can also have a positive impact on diabetes, obesity and heart disease - Exeter University

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