Eating Disorders Information (EDI)

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Spending time with nature

Posted by a.marlow on October 8, 2012 at 5:40 AM Comments comments (0)

It might sound glib but, if you're suffering from a body image problem, it might do you good to get out into nature for a bit.

What does nature have to do with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, though?

The answer lies in what might have caused that condition. It is at least partly true that our society's cultural standards of beauty and attractiveness are responsible for the creation of such disorders- from this perspective, it makes perfect sense that a woman who is constantly trying to get thinner, despite being told by her friends that she already looks like a skeleton, would be doing so because of a perceived pressure to be thin. And, from this perspective, it also makes sense that taking yourself out of the environment that made you feel that pressure in the first place could only do you good.

This idea has (not so) recently been tested by one ecopsychologist. Writing in the Journal Ecopsychology, Hennigan describes a study she conducted on the lived experiences of 12 women during time spent in nature. Hennigan concluded that: "results of this organic inquiry supported the idea that spending time in natural settings improved body image by way of distancing women from the cultural context, increasing embodied experiences, and supporting connection to nature." In plain english, this means that getting into the countryside can both take you away from the cultural pressures of living in a city where you are constantly bombarded by messages about how to lose weight etc., and also that being in nature itself is a way of experiencing your body as something positive.


Hennigan, K, 2010. "Therapeutic Potential of Time in Nature: Implications for Body Image in Women", Ecopsychology, 2(3), 135-140