Spending time outdoors is often a key element to the process of overcoming substance addiction. Staying inside too much can lead to physical and mental health issues. A return to nature is a vital part of recovery.
Why Recovery In Nature Is Important
A healthy lifestyle is a balanced one. Time spent indoors balanced with time spent walking outside in a natural setting allows your mind, body, and spirit to connect. The peaceful setting at Silver Ridge highlights recovery in nature as part of our program because the benefits of interacting with nature have been widely studied and are well known to help maintain sobriety and lessen pain.
Taking nature walks, for example, has been proven to lower your risk for depression. Hiking outdoors in a natural setting for 90 minutes regularly has shown to decrease activity in the area of the brain related to depression.
Another research study shows that walking outdoors has positive effects on your mood, cognitive functioning, and working memory, and lessens feelings of anxiety.
The Benefits of Nature Walks In Recovery
Undergoing substance abuse recovery in nature offers powerful healing benefits, including:
- Exercise: Whether you take a one-mile daily stroll or exuberant hikes while in recovery, the fact that you are moving your body in a therapeutic surrounding is what helps. Exercise in itself increases your brain’s natural production of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, all of which produce pleasurable feelings and a sense of well-being without the need for chemicals or substances.
- Stress and Anxiety Relief: Recovery in nature that includes walks beside mountains, trees, rolling streams and the beauty of the outdoors tends to allow time for you to contemplate life while simultaneously enjoying the serenity of your surroundings.
- Awareness: Being in nature reminds us that we all share this earth together with plants, people, and animals. There is more to life than just our ‘selves’. Regular nature walks allow you to see beyond your own problems and trains the brain to think more selflessly and recognize the bigger picture.
- Increased Attention Span: As you walk along a path outside, you will become more aware of the details around you. Perhaps you’ll notice plants or small animals you’ve never paid attention to before, yet they share the world with us and bring us peace.
- Lowered Blood Pressure: Walking is great for bringing down elevated blood pressure.
- Vitamin D Exposure: Just 20 minutes of daily exposure to sunshine provides you with your body’s ability to synthesize vitamin D, an important nutrient. Vitamin D contributes greatly to health in recovery.
- Breathing Clean Air: The air outdoors is often more pure than indoor air, especially air that is recycled inside. Your lungs and body need to breathe in the oxygen outdoors in order to help heal damaged tissue and increase organ function.
- Experience Better Sleep: Going out into nature during the day exposes your body to bright light, which increases your stores of melatonin. You’ll sleep better at night when your biological clock is set to the rhythm of rural areas, where nights are darker then in city or suburban neighborhoods.
Recovery in Motion
Taking nature hikes while in recovery doesn’t have to stop once you are back home and living a sober lifestyle. In fact, you will probably find that taking nature walks has become an enjoyable practice that you will indulge in for many years to come. Walking just 30 minutes a day post-recovery can help you maintain your sobriety as you also continue to care for your mental and physical health.