Nature Therapy for Eating Disorder Recovery

Nature Therapy for Eating Disorder Recovery

Nature therapy for eating disorder recovery:

Think about the last time you walked through the bustling city streets. Now, recall the last time you were stuck in an overcrowded gym. Next, think about the last time you took a walk around a lake or green space.. And finally, the last time you just laid under a tree. How do those different thoughts make you feel? 

I can safely bet that the thoughts of being in a busy city or overcrowded gym made you feel stressed, anxious and uncomfortable. 

On the other hand I can 100% say that the thought of a nature walk brought you thoughts of calmness, being at peace and content happiness. 

This is why you see a lot of posts, and people talking about nature therapy for mental wellness and overall health. By looking at the research thats coming out frequently we can use this for the field of eating disorder therapy.

Of course there will always be the skeptic questions such as does nature really improve mental health, what exactly is nature therapy, how “much” nature therapy is needed and of course how does nature therapy and eating disorders connect?

How does living in cities affect our mental health?

Just being in a city or close confines of multiple buildings makes an individual more susceptible to decreased mental health. There are many reasons for this such as:

Air pollution: Cities generate a lot of air pollution, which negatively affects mental and physical health.

Light pollution: Light pollution in the city can throw off a person’s circadian rhythm, making it hard to get quality sleep.

Noise: Just being near the sounds of traffic and crowds have been found to increase levels of anxiety of depression.

Given that we now know cities are not the greatest for our health, what are the positive effects of nature on health?

There are thousands of positive effects of nature on health (I could go on all day and night, but I won’t because I love my sleep), both mental and physical.

Due to the results of many scientific tested theories the outcome has shown that people who spent more time in nature had:

  • Decreased levels of cortisol, heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increased levels of focus and memory
  • Increased positive mood
  • Decreased levels of depression, anger, fatigue, tension and anxiety
  • Increased sense of revitalization and stillness
  • Decreased impulsivity and greater sense of space and self

And the best part is, it only takes 20 minutes in nature to start feeling the positive effects.

Us humans were not designed to live in cities, we only came to live in them because of the mass population occurring quickly.  

Fresh air, sunlight, and large spaces revitalize us, because that is what our minds and bodies are used to, and what they CRAVE`. 

Nature is AWESOME, but what is Nature Therapy?

Nature therapy was first brought about by the Japanese as “Shinrin-yoku,” which means “taking in the forest with all of our senses.” 

There is no purposeful exercise, no phones, music or laptops and no purpose.

You must wander the forest aimlessly taking in the forest with all your senses. From there you will find a sense of stillness within the body, mind and soul. 

Now, I get it, not everyone has a forest in their backyard. The great thing about nature therapy is that it can be an urban green space near your apartment block, it can be tending to your house plants, gardening etc. 


I personally advise practicing meditation while amongst nature. Being deep purposeful breathing, sensing all that is around you and in you.


Now for the main reason you’ve come to read this blog…. The connection between nature therapy and eating disorders 

Eating disorder thoughts and behaviors are largely connected to the body, and to the perception of the self within the world. For example, many people with eating disorders suffer from negative body image as well as body dysmorphia which means they have a distorted sense of how they look and how much space they take up. 

Nature therapy promotes emotional well-being, but it also reconnects an individual, and especially an individual’s body, to the natural world. 

We often think of our minds as separate from our bodies, and separate from the world around us. This line of thought was prevalent for a long time in eating disorder treatment: clinicians focused on only the mind, and not the body. Things are starting to change though as the bodily experience is becoming recognized as an important part of recovery. 

Many treatment programs have introduced body focused therapies, such as Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing and Emotional Freedom Technique.

Researchers have also explored more body focused therapies, including nature therapy. 

In one study, which investigates the relationship between nature therapy and eating disorders, eating disorder patients engaged in individual and guided nature walks, often without shoes on. This process allowed patients to reconnect their physical bodies with the world, have a better sense of space, and a more objective understanding of their bodies. Specifically, patients found that they were re-embodied with the world, experiencing it through their feet. Many sufferers describe their eating disorders as something “in their head,” cutting off the connection between the mind and the body. Walking, and focusing specifically on the feeling of their feet on the ground, re-embodied patients, and they felt more connected to themselves and the world.

Nature also embraced them as they were at that moment. No eating disorder, just them as a human.

Being in nature, to the study participants, felt like a “break” from the judgment and critical self-perception that can be overwhelming when there are more people around. 

The concentration, whether they were walking alone or with others, was on nature. They were also able to practice mindfulness, existing in the present moment. They were not ruminating on the past or feeling anxiety about the future: they were just being.

Spending time in nature improves mood and allows individuals with eating disorders to mindfully reconnect with the world. 

This is why, working with Hannah 1 on 1 in recovery we focus a lot on sessions within nature to bring about a clear mind and gradual lasting recovery. 


Here at Alkame Wellness we believe wholeheartedly in nature therapy and how we use it in lasting recovery from an Eating Disorder.






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