Over the past several months, I have begun providing therapy outdoors for my clients. Several have taken me up on the offer. We get out on trails and walk and talk, bike, and with a young client who is an avid baseball player, we even play catch.
Therapy outdoors combines physical activity with the therapeutic effects of nature to help improve mood, reduce anxiety and lift depression.
Benefits of Therapy Outdoors
Therapy outdoors, while doing an activity is especially effective with men. Research has demonstrated that many men are more likely to talk about feelings and problems when they are doing physical activity. It's been a great way to connect and bond with clients. For those less comfortable or familiar with therapy, with Therapy, it also provides opportunities to see their therapist in a more natural setting. Clients also see that improving mental health requires care across many areas of life and that mind and body are connected.
As a therapist, my own wellbeing has improved, by being more physically active through the day and sitting for fewer hours during the day.
Mind and Body Connection
Movement is important to our bodies and our minds. It compliments therapy by boosting mood, raising dopamine levels and just being in nature can help our minds reconnect with the sights and sounds of nature, increasing mindfulness making physical changes in the brain!
Getting active has a direct link to your mental health, decreases risk of depression and anxiety.
Focus on Movement
If you want to do more physical activity, know that it doesn't need to be strenuous. Walking, gardening, light stretching, biking, mowing the lawn or playing an outdoor game like washer toss are wonderful ways to get up and move. While we are often advised to get 20 minutes of physical activity per day, research shows we benefit most from about 90 minutes.
This may seem a lot, but it doesn't need to be all at once. You can experience significant benefits by frequent activity throughout the day, and it doesn't require a gym or sports field.
Try to get 90 minutes of moderate physical activity for three days this week.
Start small. Instead of focusing on long-term benefits, think of the short-term and immediate benefits. Research shows that physical activity provide immediate increases in energy and mood that last well into the next day and for up to 24 hours.
Take good care,
Your wellbeing matters. Take five minutes to learn if you are suffering, surviving or thriving in five essential areas of life and what you can do to improve your wellbeing. Try it now.
About the Author:
Derrick McEachern is a Registered Counselling Therapist (RCT) in Nova Scotia, and a Canadian Certified Counsellor. He specializes in providing mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in the areas of addiction, healthy relationships, grief and loss, and career and life transitions. He offers workshops and webinars and consults with businesses on ways to improve employee wellbeing and mental health.