It is not always easy to describe how spending time in nature makes you feel. Sometimes the feelings are too complex for words. But most people would agree that being in nature makes them feel refreshed and peaceful and that it does wonders for body, mind, and spirit. For people in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, being outdoors can help restore balance and wellness to their lives.
When most people think of spending time in nature, they may think of green open spaces, mountains, oceans, forests, and other natural places. They may think of walking through a park, kayaking down a river, or sitting on a beach listening to the waves roll in. But for those who live in a city or spend long hours working in an office building, “nature” can feel very far away. If this is your situation, don’t be discouraged. Spending time in nature could be as simple as watching clouds glide through the blue sky, taking a walk through the city, planting flowers in a window box, or appreciating the trees that line the street.
Read on to learn more about the many benefits being in nature can provide during recovery.
Being in Nature Improves Mental Health and Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Two contributing factors to substance use disorders are stress and anxiety. People often turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to relax or escape from their reality. As their substance addiction takes hold they do not realize their mental health symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, are worsening. In recovery, they break the destructive cycle of addiction.
Research has proven spending time in nature improves mental health and reduces stress levels. Even listening to the sounds of nature, seeing nature from a window, or looking at a picture of nature will help lower stress levels while providing a sense of tranquility. When you are surrounded by nature, your body processes stress differently making it more manageable. Walking in nature has been shown to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in improved mood.
Being in Nature Facilitates Mindfulness
Spending time in nature provides a chance to relax and unwind. It is a peaceful time for meditation, self-reflection, or mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness helps you regain control and restore self-awareness. Although there are different mindfulness techniques, the focus is concentrating on your surroundings and being fully present at that moment without any judgment or expectations. It is a way to increase mental clarity. Being in nature provides the perfect environment for this.
Being in Nature Helps Improve Focus and Concentration
Spending time in nature improves a person’s cognitive flexibility, working memory, and attentional-control tasks. Nature has a calming effect; the more you relax, the sharper your brain becomes.
Being in Nature Improves Physical Fitness
Spending time in nature is a great way to exercise. There are many outdoor activities that are enjoyable and physically beneficial. Depending on where you live and the time of year, you can exercise by walking, swimming, hiking, kayaking, biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, and much more. When you exercise, your brain releases hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which create a natural high, easing feelings of anxiety and depression.
Exercising outdoors not only improves mental health but also physical fitness. As you build endurance and strength, you become stronger, healthier, and more confident. Exercise helps repair the body from the damage of drug or alcohol abuse. The health benefits of exercise include lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, reduced blood pressure, improved brain function, improved quality of sleep, and higher energy levels.
Being in Nature Strengthens the Immune System
Active addiction weakens a person’s immune system. When you spend time outdoors, your skin absorbs Vitamin D from sunlight. People who do not have enough Vitamin D are at higher risk of having diabetes, heart disease, and atrophic arthritis disorders. They are also more susceptible to illnesses. Spending time in nature helps your body to build its immunity more quickly during recovery.
Addiction Can Affect Anyone
A chronic brain disease, addiction can affect anyone. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, now is the time to get help. At Canyon Vista Recovery Center in Mesa, Arizona, you will get the help you need to take back control of your life. Contact us today to find out how we can help.