One of the best things a depressed person can do is step out the front door. Natural light is very beneficial, especially early in the day. Exercise has proven benefits. Something as simple as taking a walk or gardening can lift your mood.
I wrote about ecotherapy a few years ago, following a major report by Mind UK. According to the report there are four main reasons why “green exercise” is beneficial for mental health:
- Natural and social connections: watching wildlife, evoking good memories, spiritual feelings
- Sensory stimulation: colors and sounds, fresh air, enjoyment, escape from pollution, contrasts with urban life, being exposed to the weather
- Activity: using manual skills, physically challenging activities such as digging or cycling
- Escape from modern life: time to think and reflect, clear the head, get away from pressures and stress.
Visit Mind UK to read or download the full report: Ecotherapy – the Green Agenda for Mental Health.
During the week the excellent Mind Hacks blog pointed to an article in ScienceLine on the same topic. The article reviews the state of play in ecopsychology, and research into ecotherapy. While it’s not as gung-ho as the Mind UK report it still makes a pretty good read.
My key takeaway from the article was not about the science of ecotherapy, but that a whole genre of therapy has flown right under my radar. Wilderness therapy, adventure therapy, outdoor behavioral healthcare and extreme ecotherapyTM. (Actually this last one is mine).
By the way, I’m a die-hard fan of Man vs Wild. It’s my only weekly TV commitment and watching it equips me with good survival skills. In my mind adventure, wilderness and therapy are made for each other. Even without a mid-life crisis this is something I can embrace. Later.
During the week author and friend Graeme Cowan added a post on his site, also on exercise and mental health. It lists a dozen websites that help with motivation and cater to different life scenarios. Graeme also referred me to Spark People a while back. I can’t stand their website (sorry Spark People), but I get their daily exercise tips by email and find them very helpful. They are always small, simple exercises that can integrate easily into a normal daily routine. Exactly where I’m at right now.
There is one other web service that I’m using called HassleMe. I receive 2 emails that I worded myself, at irregular intervals. The first one tells me that I have lousy posture – which makes me instantly sit up straight. The other tells me to take just one step outside. (The second step is always easier.)
Do you use online reminders or social websites to help motivate you? I’m interested to hear which ones help, so please share your experiences below.