We have all experienced the powerful effect of nature. Whether you are strolling on the beach, hiking in the hills, or puttering in your garden, being outside refreshes and soothes the soul. For those in recovery, restoring wellness gets a big boost when paired with the sounds, smells, and sensations of nature.
How can something that costs absolutely nothing have such a profound impact on our wellbeing? Well, nature represents life. When you connect with the natural elements you absorb the energy of life happening all around you. From the fresh colorful blossoms you pass on a daily walk to the earthen scent of a hiking trail, the potent effects of nature are sure to lift your spirits.
Tips for Recovery
While in treatment you were probably offered plenty of tips for achieving a successful recovery. Of course, those would include continuing care actions, like attending recovery meetings and keeping up with outpatient therapy. It is also quite likely that you were also encouraged to spend time outdoors, getting exercise and absorbing vitamin D from the sun.
The reason why connecting with nature is considered a healthy part of the recovery process is because of its many healing properties. Outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, cycling, running, swimming, and participating in seasonal sports, have a long list of benefits for people in recovery. These include the general health benefits of exercise, the mental health benefits, as well as to help relieve boredom. Learn about the many ways that being out in nature enhances the recovery process.
Five Reasons for the Importance of Nature in Recovery
Consider these five ways that connecting with nature helps recovery:
- Decreases Anxiety. In recovery, it is important to take steps to reduce or manage feelings of anxiety. Anxiety and stress commonly trigger relapse. Nature is soothing. Whether it is a soft breeze on our face or the sounds of water, nature gives us a sense of peace. Take advantage of this natural stress-reducer and enjoy the tranquility that convening with nature can bring. Visit a botanical garden or nature preserve to help bring about a relaxed state of mind.
- Elevates Mood. Depression is very common in early recovery. It takes time to adjust to a new lifestyle and a new set of friends. Also, there may be consequences from the substance use that can leave you feeling down. Getting outside in nature is one way to elevate your mood. First off, being outdoors just makes you feel more upbeat. It frees you from your own four walls and opens you up to the wonders of nature. Also, sunshine helps us produce vitamin D, which can help improve mood as well.
- Helps us Connect With Our Spiritual Side. In recovery, you hear a lot about relying on your Higher Power. The concept of a Higher Power connects us to a sense of spirituality, however, you decide to define it. Going out into nature, seeing its beauty and vastness, helps you cultivate a sense of the profound. The miraculous design of nature provokes a sense of awe. This can draw you into a spiritual mindset and inspire you to spend some time in reflection, prayer, or meditation.
- Enhances Overall Wellness. Restoring health and wellbeing in recovery is a priority. In addition to maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough quality sleep, getting regular exercise is essential. By getting outdoors and being active, you will begin to reap the benefits of movement. Outdoor activities are the perfect way to improve strength, flexibility, and stamina. Whether it’s a daily 20-minute brisk walk or a 20-mile bike ride, your body will benefit from including exercise in your regular routine.
- Increases Joy. After living with a substance use disorder, it may have been a while since you last felt a sense of happiness or joy. The loss of pleasure is a common effect caused by substance use. In recovery, you slowly restore your physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, laying a perfect foundation for once again experiencing joy. Being out in nature provides the perfect spark for reigniting joy. Just drinking in the sights and sounds around you can provoke a renewed sense of happiness.
Tap into the healing properties of nature. On every level of your being, natural beauty and all of the sensory treats it provides will enhance your mindset and your recovery.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.