Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ecotherapy: The Benefits of Nature

Enjoying nature has multiple health benefits. It can lower depression and blood pressure, increase motivation, and reduce stress (WebMD, 2005-2014). 

When I was a child, I loved playing outside in our backyard. I could often be seen with a jelly jar or Miracle Whip jar trying to catch butterflies or bumble bees. Mamma would use an old fashioned can opener to punch holes in the top of the metal jar lid so my precious prisoners could breathe until I freed them. I also enjoyed smelling the roses and phlox, and if no one was looking, I would pinch off a delicate phlox blossom and suck the miniscule drop of its sweet nectar.

Decades later, instead of scampering around the garden with a jelly jar or Miracle Whip jar, I enjoy a variety of outdoor projects that have become my ecotherapy.

Herb garden
Planting an herb garden can be fun. Select herbs based on your tastes. If you like basil, rosemary, and thyme in your food, then plant them, but experiment with other herbs. A combination of finely chopped herbs will liven up baked fish and chicken or a pot of homemade soup.

A mint plant is great to have in an herb garden. Mint is tasty in hot or iced tea as well as in a watermelon smoothie: blend a cup of watermelon cubes with a few mint leaves for a refreshing summer drink.

Vegetable garden
Growing vegetables might inspire you to eat healthier. It feels good to go out and pick a ripe tomato or cucumber to add to a fresh salad. Growing vegetables can be challenging though, depending on where you live because you will have to find creative and humane ways to compete with the rabbits, deer, and tomato worms for your harvest. 

Flower garden
Growing flowers is a way for you to put your creativity to work. Experiment with color combinations, blooming times, and planting designs. This year, I combined purple and red flowers in one of my flower pots. The colors are striking. I also bought several succulents and three clay pot bottoms in varying sizes. I filled each bottom with dirt. Then I layered the bottoms. I placed the medium bottom on top of the large bottom and placed the small bottom on top of the medium bottom. Finally, I planted the succulents randomly in the layered tops.

To make your garden exciting, plant flowers that attract butterflies (butterfly bush, bee balm, and lavender) and hummingbirds (petunias, day lilies, and hollyhocks).

Bird watching
If you feed them, they will come. Buy some wild bird seed and a few bird feeders. Then sit down and watch the birds come. Try to identify the different types of birds and enjoy their morning songs and interesting social lives.

Being involved in nature is a stress reliever for me. I find solace in my garden. My garden is where I begin my day with my morning prayers, a cup of coffee, and positive thoughts for the day.

How has nature improved your life? This is the story in you. Share it.


Sorgen, C. (2005-2014). Nature therapy may mean that better health is right outside your door. WebMD. Retrieved from

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