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Guest Blog: The Therapeutic Effects of Nature

We’ve teamed up with Nicola Taylor, founder of of WalksFar Woman, specialising in outdoor and walking therapy in Abergavenny and the surrounding areas. Here Nicola talks about the therapeutic benefits of being outdoors and how we can continue to love it, even as we approach the colder months of the year.

Discover the therapeutic effects of nature and don’t be put off by the cold!

As a walking therapist I can’t emphasise enough the powerful effect that spending time outside has on our mental health and wellbeing. I also know how difficult it can be to motivate ourselves to leave our cosy homes to venture out into the cold, wet and fading light during the Autumn and Winter months.

Lack of light can contribute to low mood which is why it is even more important to spend time outdoors at this time of the year. Have you ever noticed how the world can look very dark when you are inside looking out but once you are outside it is lighter than you realise? I have often noticed when coming in from a Winter walk that once inside it seems really dark outside even though I have been out and about and even taking photographs! I made a particular trip out late one afternoon to take pictures of a tree. It was amazing to just spend time being with the tree, studying it in detail and really appreciating its beauty. As the light began to fade the automatic flash on my camera helped me to capture some beautiful images. Walking home I felt so positive and uplifted and couldn’t wait to spend time looking at the photographs I had captured. And there is science to support this! A growing body of research into the effects of spending time with trees shows that anxiety and depression are reduced, especially when combined with exercise.

If you are parents of young children you have an advantage! Little ones often seem immune to the cold and wet and you can bet that if there is a puddle to be splashed in or mud to be messed with, they will find it. Watch your children as they embrace being outdoors and learn from them. They live in the moment. They are not worrying about last week’s botched meeting or forthcoming presentation they are experiencing the pure joy of what is happening in the here and now. Rediscover the child within you; the freedom of splashing in a puddle, swinging on a branch and scrambling on rocks. As you do this you will be releasing serotonin and reducing levels of cortisol so you will feel more positive and less stressed. Think about the message you will be sending to your children too! You are their most powerful role model and the lessons they learn in their early years will continue to influence them as they grow. Teaching them resilience could be their most important weapon against anxiety and depression as they grow.

If you think you need to learn how to do this first why not try walking therapy? In my work as a walking therapist it is a joy to spend time with adults and watch the healing effects of walking in natural surroundings. The combination that walking and positive questioning has on clients is amazing. Watching clarity of thought emerge, posture become more upright, the number of smiles increase and problems become lighter.  Dr Thomas Frieden* has described walking in nature as ‘the closest thing we have to a wonder drug’ and I am inclined to agree!

*Former Director for Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

2 Responses to “Guest Blog: The Therapeutic Effects of Nature”

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