Through her business Eco Monkey, Holly Barber, 42, hosts guided nature therapy walks helping people to ‘switch off’.
She started her vocation during lockdown, leaving a high pressure role as a campaign manager to concentrate on setting up her business.
Holly said: “Lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic has made everyone appreciate the world around them that little bit more. When we were all limited to just one-hour of outdoor activity it really made us all enjoy being outside again.”
The Office for National Statistics reports that 19 million adults in Great Britain report high levels of anxiety.
As Covid-19 restrictions ease and people return to previous responsibilities and demands, Holly feels that her new role is more important than ever before: “I worry that as routines and busy lives start to go back to a new normal that people will lose sight of the importance of being outside and taking time to take it all in. Nature really does heal you, I know it really helped me, and the more people I can help, the better.”
The theory behind Nature Therapy comes from the Japanese art of shinrin-yoku, which translates to forest bathing. Studies suggest that it boosts immune systems, reduces stress hormones and enhances mental wellbeing.
“To see people come to me at the start of a session full of worry and anxiety and then as the walk goes on you can actually see it melting away from them,” Holly said. “Their whole way of moving changes, their breathing deepens and I can see people starting to relax in front of me. To know that I am helping them to do that is just fantastic.”
Each walk consists of a series of invitations to 'help connect you to your senses, your heart and the nature that is both in and around you.'
As an accredited member of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs, Holly offers guided walks on a 121 or group basis. For more information, or to book a session visit www.the-eco-monkey.com