Recent research has shown the benefits of ecotherapy and how it can help with mental health issues. From gardening to nature watching, walking in the woods and forests to outdoor sport activities all can have many benefits. It has been proven to improve mental health, boost self-esteem, help people with mental health problems return to work, improve physical health, and reduce social isolation.
Ecotherapy helps people to look after their mental health by getting active outdoors while being supported by trained professionals.
This weekend I spent my time on the coast of West Wales split between camping at Talywerdd camp site near Llangrannog and an afternoon coasterring of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park with TYF. This is the second time I have spent with them and to say that it lifts both the physical and mental well-being would be an understatement, from the walk along the coastal path with amazing views to the time spent coasteering in and along the edge of the water.
The child within
Why would nature have this benign effect? A valuable theory was offered by a leading figure in this field, Michael Cohen founder and co-ordinator of theAmerican Project Nature Connect. He maintains that nature offers a different civilisation from that of human culture. Earth offers a wisdom, joy and beauty that excludes pollution, war and insanity. Nature is willing to share its magic and secrets with anyone, anywhere, any time. He writes that, “the natural world produces no garbage. On a macro level, everything is valued, nothing is discarded or unwanted and that defines unconditional love in action … we, as part of life, inherit the natural world’s integrity as our inner nature, a profound globally shared creation blueprint which too often we, demeaningly, call ‘the little child within us’.”
From my experience on my time spent in the country and on the coast this strikes a deep chord within me, if in general someone said jump off that rock face into that sea that is foaming white I would probably say “you are having a laugh” put in the group scenario with a professional and trained guide and I do not hesitate to capture my inner child and do what many have long left behind. This goes back to my post about play and who says when we are too old to play, as my son-in-law said on the weekend “You are the oldest bloke I seen do a forward flip” my response “you aint long on this earth enjoy it”
The buzz and feeling of being alive lasted a long time after the actual coasteering, another thing that was very easy to see was to have total respect for the sea and its power, I spend a lot of time in the sea and rivers, the relatively small swell that was present this weekend due to a small low pressure building made the time in the sea far different to the last time I went out with TYF, the adrenaline rush from the wonder of nature certainly gives you a health kick.
So as I said in the play post the only thing stopping you getting out and gaining the benefits of play and nature is you.
One thing I will add is to only ever do coasteering with professional guides such as those from TYF , I fully recommend them and the activities they run both in and around the sea off one of our premier national parks, as one of the guides John has said “What an office to have”. Get out there and enjoy life, it’s the only one you get and it is not a rehearsal.