Over the last few weeks we've talked about Ecotherapy and how we use our senses to interact with nature. We've learned that nature plays a big role in how we feel and can really improve our mental wellbeing.
In our final part, we're looking at the world and how different cultures approach wellbeing.
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%.
Different cultures approach and treat mental health issues in different ways but stigma is still the number one reason why, in many cultures, people don't speak out.
In Asia, where many cultures value “conformity to norms, emotional self-control, and family recognition through achievement”, mental illnesses are often stigmatised and seen as a source of shame.
African/Latino American people are far less likely to seek help and more likely to report negative attitudes towards health care professionals, noting that stigma, among other things, that contribute to their wariness of mental health services. In contrast, European Americans frequently sought care and tended to view psychiatric medications as “central and necessary” aspects of treatment.
Our relationship with nature through deities
Throughout history and across cultures, humans have often had a belief that other-worldly forces and natural bodies have influenced and controlled our emotions and wellbeing.
Gods and Goddesses, spiritual leaders, missionaries, saints and other divine figures are said to keep calm and peace on earth, ensure earth's balance is maintained and provide a presence for those who wish to confide in them.
But it's not just religious or mythical figures that have quoted nature as a comfort. Modern historical 'celebrities' have spoken inspirational words regarding nature and its healing powers.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better - Albert Einstein
Choose only one master—nature - Rembrant
I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy' - Sylvia Plath
If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is nature’s way - Aristotle
The earth has music for those who listen - William Shakespeare
Traditional western medicine & treatments
While traditional Western medicine has historically focused on medicines and other therapeutics for people with mental health issues, there’s quite a bit of recent research that demonstrates the benefits of recreating in nature.
Common treatments for low mood, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues are medical prescriptions and talking therapies.
Of course, anyone dealing with mental health issues should reach out to a professional provider for more tailored guidance and support. Getting outside and holidaying in nature can certainly be part of a healthy lifestyle that supports individuals struggling with mental health issues.
Alternative medicine, therapy & treatments
Alternative treatments take a holistic approach, treating the body and wellbeing as a whole.
Complementary therapies are treatments that can be taken alongside the medicines offered by your doctor, such as yoga, pilates, acupuncture and massages.
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR as it is commonly known, has become somewhat of an internet phenomenon. A search on YouTube will return thousands of results. Videos typically involve soft, relaxing and ‘triggering’ sounds intending to calm and relieve you of negative thoughts. Studies, although limited, have found promising results, including mood lifts, better sleep and relief from chronic pain.
Simple things that reduce stress and anxiety
Getting outdoors is one of the best things you can do to boost your mood and reduce stress, but some simple activities can be done at home and while camping to help lift mood, most of which are things we do without too much thought.
Reading Not all of us enjoy reading, but for those who do, reading is a pleasurable activity that is proven to reduce stress, help prevent memory loss, educate and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Music & ASMR When you listen to music, your brain releases the feel-good chemical dopamine. The more you enjoy the music, the more dopamine is released. ASMR helps you destress and relax.
Baking & Cooking Culinary art therapy (CAT) is a new type of treatment that uses baking and cooking as therapy. It works by focusing the mind on a task that produces an edible result. Yum!
Cleaning & Tidying According to a study at Indiana University, USA, a cluttered space can lead to decreased productivity and focus. People with tidier houses tend to be healthier. Time to get hoovering!