Whenever I mention Indoor Ecotherapy, either in a conversation or social media post, some people react with surprise. Is this not an oxymoron? Isn’t the point of Nature Connection to go outside, smell the fresh air, hear the birds, hug a tree?
“Nature itself is the best physician.”
Absolutely, in a perfect world that is the goal for most ecotherapy approaches, to get immersed and in contact with the natural world. But what about people who do not have this luxury? Longterm patients in hospital, bed bound residents in geriatric institutions or end of life care, people with disabilities, allergies, trauma? Sometimes it’s just about opportunity, families in disadvantaged areas of a big city, children in full-time childcare or inner-city schools… the list goes on. Nature Connection is an integral part of human health and wellbeing, even more so for people who are deprived of this opportunity for one reason or another.
There are many studies at this stage that illustrate the crucial part Nature Connection plays in health and healing. Results show improved sleep, decreased pain, faster healing, improved mental health and more. The literature review “Associations between Nature Exposure and Health: A Review of the Evidence” by Marcia P. Jimenez et al (2014) give a good overview of the benefits of “Vitamin G” on health.
So how can we do this? Well, I believe that we can be out in the middle of the forest with our ruminating minds stuck in the office. At the same time we could be in a room without windows and feel completely connected to Nature. You don’t believe me? What differentiates us humans from the rest of the animated world is our imagination and the possibilities to create an experience through intention and applying multi sensory methodologies.
Picture this: Your ageing grandmother is a resident in a nursing home. She is unable to leave the home but she used to love nothing more than spending a day at the beach. She is physically and mentally unable to partake in many activities offered by the home but would benefit so much from receiving some vital Nature Connection.
Well… All it takes is a little bit of creativity and some resources: a box of fine sand, a sound track of the ocean, some sea shells, a jar with some seaweed and saltwater…and maybe even some Fish and Chips to top it off. Her feet could be immersed in the sand, the track is playing in the background and she can hold the seashells in her hands. The seaweed and saltwater provide olfactory stimulation and if she is able to, she can listen to a guided ocean visualisation. This might sound a bit too simplistic, but the effect can be profound, if not even life changing for people with substantial limitations. We often take the obvious for granted until it’s taken from us.
Every patient and client is different but there are endless possibilities to integrate ecotherapy and Nature Connection in most indoor environments.
Indoor Ecotherapy can look like this:
- Pot plants
- Nature Art on the Walls
- A beautiful view from the window.
- Fresh air, open windows.
- Nature videos.
- Nature background sounds.
- Visualisations and Meditations
- Tactile Nature Friends (Stones, sea shells, feathers, crystals etc.
If you would like to learn more, take a look at our Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy Training. It’s a practitioner training for Health and Education Professionals to greenskill their practice and bring vital Vitamin G to those who need it most.