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A Psychotherapist’s Go-To Strategy For Releasing Stress & Loneliness

One of the areas of psychology that has contributed to our understanding of the impacts of direct contact with nature is ecopsychology. This field of study focuses on understanding the human-nature relationship. A core assumption of ecopsychology is that the outer world and our inner world are intimately connected. After all, we are nature! Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we need regular interaction with the natural world in order to thrive as individuals and as a species.

Yet we are spending less time in the natural world than ever before. More than 70% of the United States population lives in urban centers, and we’re spending more time than ever focused on screens for work, school, entertainment, and socializing. A 2019 Nielsen report showed that the average adult spends nearly 12 hours per day interacting with some form of media. Studies show that kids are staring at screens for far too long each day on average and spending only four to seven minutes per day in unstructured outdoor play.

During the lockdown of the COVID pandemic, we were even more removed from nature and from each other. Health professionals are concerned about a growing epidemic of loneliness–not only among older adults, but among young people as well. Recent studies point to loneliness as a major health risk, rivaling smoking. Some researchers suggest that our loneliness may also be rooted in “species loneliness“–our disconnection from other life on the planet.

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