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woodland walks, pottering in the garden, and being kissed by the sun’s raysall have the potential to improve our mood.

 Have you noticed that you tend to feel worse when cooped up inside?

So, it’s no wonder that women head outdoors to heal everything from midlife heartbreak and menopausal anxiety to more serious mental health conditions.

This medicinal form of nature is known as ecotherapy, and there’s scientific evidence to support its success.

by the medical profession. Ecotherapy is now being used as a social prescription, with the NHS making referrals from mental health centers and rehabilitation units.

 Some people will go through life without ever suffering psychologically and they won’t experience vulnerability.

For others, mounting stress, work issues, bereavements, or relationship problems can take a toll.

 Mental health issues can creep up and break a person’s resilience. That’s when you can find solace in the natural world.

Today we’re discussing all 6 surprising things you didn’t know about nature is good for you

1- Natures prescription

Ecotherapy covers a broad range of nature-based activities that can enhance health, explains Jess Bayley, ecotherapist and project manager at The Centre for Ecotherapy (centreforecotherapy.org.uk).

 It’s the conscious recognition that being in nature is effective in improving our wellbeing and that it develops people’s connection to themselves and the natural environment.

2- Into the wild

With hectic lifestyles that see us rarely alone, escaping to the wilderness can restore calm and build resilience.

 One study in ”Health Promotion International” found that wild, solo adventures develop coping skills, sensitivity to the environment, and a sense of freedom that can increase general wellbeing.

Visit a deserted beach on a stormy day and be lifted by the power of the sea, Or find a wide, open space and allow the natural energy of the wind to affect you.

3- Embrace the elements

Submerging yourself in cold water sounds brutal, but there are healthy rewards. The father of medicine, Hippocrates, used cold bathing in his treatment of serious illnesses, and recent studies show it can reduce inflammation, improve circulation, increase energy and trigger feelgood chemicals in the brain.

Wim Hof, aka the Ice Man, champions this therapy and, through a combination of cold water immersion and breathing techniques, claims his method can influence the body’s entire nervous system (wimhofmethod.com).

Find your local wild swim spot to try cold water swimming.

 It’s shown to boost our immune system through increasing our white blood cell count,’ says Blue Health Coach Lizzi Larbalestier (goingcoastal.blue). Visit outdoorswimmingsociety.com for tips on doing it safely.

4- The power of the sea

We’re drawn to water for recreation and restoration- even a coastal walk can affect mental health.

 evidence shows that proximity to water positively impacts breathing and heart rate, and creates a positive mood thanks to a release of ‘pleasure’ neurochemicals such as oxytocin and dopamine.

5- Praise the rays

Some sun exposure is vital for good health.

 On sunny days, the brain produces more serotonin that can ward off mild depression and poor sleep, and natural sunlight triggers the body to make vitamin D.

This then helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphate for strong bones, teeth, and muscles.

 ‘We know that vitamin D is important for bone health during the menopause, but research shows that adequate levels of vitamin D.

may also reduce the risk of cancer- especially breast cancer -heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and slow down the aging process’ says Dr. Marilyn Glenville.

+ STAY SAFE So, how much-unprotected sun exposure is needed to make enough vitamin D? This depends on skin type, the time of day or year, and where you are in the world, advises Cancer Research UK.

For lighter skin tones this can be less than 10 minutes a day; darker skins require more.

Measure your daily UVA/ UVB exposure with the wearable My Skin Track UV from La Roche Posay (£54.95).

6- garden goodness

Over 60% of 45-65-year-olds enjoy gardening as a hobby, with studies suggesting that gardens become even more important to us as we get older.

It’s a source of physical activity that gives a sense of purpose and can stave off loneliness and negative emotions.

 The exercise, fresh air, eating wholesome, self-grown fresh foods,

sharing those foods with others, caring for wildlife and growing plants, all support the body and mind so beneficially.

Horticultural therapist Deb Hoskin (horticultural-therapy-trust.org). ‘No matter how deep someone’s sadness or emotional trauma, garden projects create the opportunity to find inner calm-enough  to live a better quality of life,’ she says.