Estate Planning & Ecopsychology
Updated: Nov 11, 2022
Captain’s Blog: 004
Green is good. As it turns out, this sentiment isn’t limited to money or vegetables. The study of ecopsychology examines the relationship between nature and humans—specifically the wellbeing that we derive from our environment—through ecological and psychological principles. In the arena of mental health, ecopsychology strives to understand positive influences that impact individuals, which helps them thrive. Ecopsychology suggests that exposure to nature has beneficial effects on cognitive functioning, mental health, stress, and healing.
In the American Psychological Association article, Green is good for you, author Rebecca A. Clay explores “restorative environments.” Restorative environments is a central concept in the field of ecopsychology. It examines “nature’s impact on people’s mental functioning, social relationships, and even physical wellbeing.” Studies show that nature has therapeutic effects on these facets of the human condition.
One doesn’t need to romp through the woods to receive these restorative effects, either. Benefits can be achieved by merely viewing nature from a window or in photographs. Without surprise, one study showed that employees with an office window overlooking nature “liked their jobs more, enjoyed better health, and reported greater life satisfaction.” In a separate study, photographs of nature reduced anxiety in intensive care patients and decreased their need for pain medication.
Outside the confines of an intensive care unit, nature can also help people recover from “normal psychological wear and tear.” In one experiment, participants were asked to complete an intense 40-minute mental task, which exhausted their capacity for attention. Then, participants were split into three groups. One group strolled through a nature preserve; one group walked in an urban setting; and another group quietly read while listening to music. Participants who rambled in the nature preserve performed better on a test that followed the break; in addition, they reported “positive emotions and less anger.”
Research further shows that time in nature promotes calm and decreases stress. “It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.” Mathew White of the European Centre for Environmental Health at the University of Exeter states, “The studies point in only one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive function.”
Many people avoid conversations about ill-health, dying, and death because it produces unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Additionally, legal concepts can seem intimidating, difficult, and mind-numbingly boring. These thoughts, feelings, and perceptions can create emotional stress, which then become obstacles to learning the most important legal documents of your life.
While it may seem unorthodox to insert tropical landscapes into legal discussions about estate planning and other elder law topics, research shows that images of nature can reduce anxiety, improve cognitive functioning, and diminish stress. Ecopsychology suggests that when individuals are calmed by a natural setting, their capacity to learn may increase.
Beach Barrister embraces these principles by providing a safe, friendly, and welcoming environment to optimize your comfort level and enhance your ability to learn. We help you overcome that initial hurtle of discussing sensitive, end-of-life topics. Let’s spend some time together—under a palm tree on a white sand beach near a rolling tide—and chat about legal life planning! Click on BeachBarrister.com to start your surprisingly Zen legal journey right now!
Plan Early. Plan Often. Plan Well.
Beach Barrister is NOT a law firm. We are an educational forum. We do NOT legally counsel individuals based upon their specific life circumstances or planning goals.
Beach Barrister is NOT a substitute for legal counsel. We highly encourage every viewer of this site to seek a local, licensed, reputable attorney to assist you with your state-specific laws, planning goals, and execution of documents.
 International Center for Ecopsychology, So what is Ecopsychology? Two descriptions, https://www.ecopsychology.info/what-is-ecopsychology (last visited January 31, 2022).  Id.  Jim Robbins, Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health, Yale Entertainment 360 (January 9, 2020), https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health (last visited January 31, 2022).  Rebecca A. Clay, Green is good for you, American Psychological Association (April 2001, Vol. 32, No. 4), https://www.apa.org/monitor/apr01/greengood (last visited January 31, 2022).  Mura Ghosh, Ecopsychology: connecting with nature, University of London, Senate House Library (May 14, 2021), https://london.ac.uk/senate-house-library/blog/ecopsychology-nature#:~:text=This%20idea%20of%20nature%20as,nature%2C%20conservation%20psychology%2C% 20and%20environmental (last visited February 1, 2022).  Clay, supra note 4.  Id.  Id.  Id.  Id.  Id.  Robbins, supra note 3.  Id.  Id.