Experiencing nature can help you connect your inner being with your surroundings, yielding noticeable improvements to your overall health. Experiencing nature leads to positive physical benefits like lower blood pressure. It can also provide many mental health benefits like increased prosocial behaviors.
Being outside in nature can help with addiction recovery as well. By understanding the benefits nature offers for recovery, more individuals can maintain long-term sobriety and lead happy and fulfilling lives.
Nature and Mental Health
Many Americans spend the majority of their days inside staring at screens. The number of hours spent doing so seems to be increasing every year. According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, mental health is on the decline, with more cases of anxiety and depression in today’s youth as a direct result of increased screen time. However, there is a simple solution to this problem: getting outside.
Scientists have conducted numerous studies that show the benefits nature offers for overall well-being. It has been shown time and time again that exposure to the natural world, and green spaces in particular, leads to improved health outcomes across the board. We commonly associate physical well-being with the natural environment as it provides water, food, protection, shelter, climate stabilization, and more. However, mental health relies on nature as well.
Interacting with nature can give busy brains a break by allowing them to relax, reducing anxiety and depression symptoms. Green spaces, even in urban environments, provide a sense of calm, boost memory, and increase cognitive flexibility, according to the American Psychological Association. These benefits help reduce stress and therefore increase productivity. Soaking in sunlight also gives your body vital nutrients, like vitamin D.
How Nature Boosts Recovery
Nature not only improves mental health in general, but it also offers specific benefits for addiction recovery. It helps reduce anxiety and depression as well. This is especially helpful for those in recovery because addiction often co-occurs with other mental health diagnoses.
Underlying disorders can contribute to the development of addiction, as many individuals turn to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms. Nature can serve as a healthier alternative while in recovery, allowing individuals to cope with life’s stressors and maintain sobriety.
Another way that nature helps recovery is by giving the brain a chance to recharge. The process of recovery can be mentally taxing, with multiple therapies and coping methods to both learn and employ. Being in nature allows the brain to relax and reconnect with one’s body and surroundings. This can help reduce stress, exhaustion, and cravings.
Another way that nature boosts addiction recovery is by improving one’s overall health. Exposure to nature reduces blood pressure and generates endorphins. Individuals are able to be more engaged with their lives by being unplugged from their job, school, and other responsibilities.
Being outside also prompts exercise through walking, running, and hiking. Physical health is vital in recovery because it helps the body heal and serves as a preventative measure against relapse. Exercising helps boost the flow of endorphins, leading to better moods and more pleasure in life.
How to Implement Nature in Your Recovery
If you want to take advantage of nature’s benefits in your own recovery, there are many ways you can do so. The easiest way is by just sitting in nature and taking in your surroundings. Focus on your sensory experience and listen to the tranquil sounds nature has to offer. Find a peaceful place to sit, such as at a park, in a field, or on your favorite bench.
You can also exercise outdoors to boost your recovery. Going for runs is the most common way, but you might consider taking a hike, going kayaking, joining a fitness group, or rock climbing. Whatever brings you happiness and allows you to enjoy the outdoors, take part in it because it will boost your recovery in the long run.
Another way you can implement outdoor activities into your recovery is by finding like-minded individuals to participate in activities with you. You can get a group of your sober buddies together to enjoy a picnic, have a barbecue, or go for a walk through a national park together. You can also go to the beach, have a bonfire, or have a friendly football game.
No matter how you choose to include nature in your recovery, make sure it is in a way that brings you peace, happiness, and a reminder of why you got sober in the first place. Nature is there for you to enjoy in healthy ways, and in return, it will boost your recovery journey.
Nature plays an incredible role in our mental health and recovery. Many people with access to nature overlook its importance. Others may never experience the natural world because they might live in an urban environment with few green spaces. However, understanding the benefits that nature has for recovery can encourage individuals to get out more and take advantage of it. At the Detox Center of Colorado, we see the value that nature has in recovery. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, our facility provides the perfect landscape to begin your journey to sobriety and reclaim your life. By providing comprehensive detox programs, our clients are set up for success in their recovery. Our programs address both substance use and mental health disorders to treat the whole person, and we know that nature plays a vital role in this process. Call the Detox Center of Colorado today at (303) 952-5035 to learn more.