Those struggling with anxiety, depression or feeling down have an opportunity to get a dose of self care thanks to nature.

The Comal County Conservation Alliance (CCCA) is presenting a community program “Health & Nature  How Nature Cures” on Aug. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m at the Landa Haus in Landa Park. A panel of experts will describe a variety of ecotherapy applications, followed by an opportunity for attendees to engage in small-group discussions with the panelists. Come and learn how nature can improve your health.

“We’ve all experienced the benefits of what is called ecotherapy at one time or another, but we didn’t know what to call it,” CCCA president, Elizabeth Bowerman, explained. CCCA is very excited about starting this conversation in our community, which is rich in nature and fortunate to have people who understand how important it is to make sure we keep abundant sources of nature available to the residents of our county as we continue to grow.”

Decades of research clearly demonstrate the benefits of nature on mental health and well-being in people of all ages, including children with ADHD, military veterans and first-responders suffering from PTSD, depression and detachment in the elderly and dementia patients, as well as those suffering from grief and neurological impairment. Other benefits found in spending time in nature include reduced stress, depression and anxiety symptoms; decreased loneliness; improved cognition in elders; improved memory span and mood; lower blood pressure and blood glucose; increased immune system functioning; and quicker post-surgery recovery. 

Amy Sugeno, LCSW, one of the panelists who will be speaking at Tuesday’s program, has been using ecotherapy in her practice for 10 years and is now teaching the techniques to other clinical therapists. Sugeno  said “Anyone who works in the healing and helping professions, such as environmental educators, occupational and physical therapists, ministers and clergy, and medical professionals can incorporate these techniques into their patient care regimes.” Nature is all around us and the benefits are available to us all, whether we are using them in our professions or just taking the time to ‘be’ in nature and breath in the benefits — they are almost unavoidable once you take yourself there.”

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