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  • Chris Belcher

San Antonio Parks, Healing Spaces

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s a perfect time to visit a San Antonio area park to mentally recharge.


You enter the natural world in your local park and as nature surrounds you stress begins melting away, anxiety calms, and depression eases. This effect is often called Nature Therapy or Ecotherapy. The reason it works is evolution and biophilia.


A Whitetail browses in Mud Creek Park Feb. 24. Being around animals is a part of Ecotherapy. Photo by: Chris Belcher

Professor Nikos Salingaros, Mathematics Department, University of Texas at San Antonio defines biophilia as, “just a love of life and living things. Not only do we love living things like plants, animals, and other people we love environments that remind us of biology.”

Salingaros is applying mathematics to architectural theory to build better healing environments.


“Humans evolved in a park-like environment which was savannah,” said Salingaros. According to him the created environments in the parks recreate the visual stimulation we once got from our ancestral environments.


“Humans evolved to get that and people working in Biophilia say that we crave this visual information like we need water, air, and food,” he added.

A key part of Biophilia are created spaces and objects that remind us of biology, sculpture and field at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, April 24. Photo by: Chris Belcher

The natural environment in the parks plays an important part in reducing anxiety, stress, and depression for San Antonio residents. This method for reducing stress by connecting with nature has become known as Ecotherapy.




Ecotherapy is a practice that’s approximately 25 years old in the U.S. according to the Earthbody Institute. It’s not a new practice however since it builds on older practices such as the practice of Forest Bathing in Japan as well as indigenous culture’s knowledge of nature’s healing power, ecology, environmental activism, and psychology.


the Earthbody Institute states, “It (Ecotherapy) affirms that to be truly healthy and whole, we need to live with the conscious awareness that we are connected with all of life: the waters, lands, air and creatures.”


A great way to connect with nature to take advantage of this healing power is finding your local San Antonio Metropolitan Area park and visiting it. The San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department and Bexar County Parks provide our resident with over 250 healing spaces for practicing Ecotherapy.


So, if you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, anxiety, lift depression, and improve your health visit your local San Antonio park today. Enjoy the sights and sounds of nature in a setting created to appeal to your evolutionary need to be a part of your natural environment.

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