There’s something pure and healing about the natural world. Hiking through the mountains on a crisp fall morning. Sitting on the shore, watching waves crash on the sand. Staring up at the dark night sky. These images evoke powerful feelings within us.
Nature therapy for depression and drug addiction is the idea that spending time outdoors can significantly benefit you in your recovery journey. If you’re overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol, nature may be the perfect antidote.
Recovering naturally by spending time in the natural world can provide incredible benefits and help you focus on healthy living and sobriety.
Health Benefits of Spending Time in Nature During Recovery
Addiction is a complicated disease. Recovery requires a multifaceted approach that focuses on your physical, mental and emotional healing. Some of the holistic benefits you’re likely to experience in nature include:
- Reduced depression
- Decreased risk of relapse
- More vitamin D and improved immunity
- Increased opportunities for exercise and movement
- Improved physical fitness
- Better sleep
- More energy
- Outlet for stress and anxiety
- Refreshed focus and enhanced cognitive function
- Opportunities to make new relationships
Dangers of Spending Too Much Time Indoors
Just as nature can benefit your mind and body, spending too much time indoors can be dangerous for recovering addicts due to these factors:
- Boredom: This relapse trigger is intensified for those who spend all their time inside.
- Excessive sitting: Too much sitting leads to poor overall health, obesity and, in extreme cases, premature death.
- Feeling confined: Those who are giving up drugs and alcohol may feel like they’re serving a prison sentence. Staying indoors only intensifies this feeling.
- Loneliness: Staying inside can be lonely. Going outside with others can help you form a positive community and prevent relapse.
- Mental fog: Sitting and spending all your time indoors makes it difficult to concentrate and creates a mental fog.
Nature Activity Ideas
Incorporating more outdoor activities into your schedule will encourage your sobriety, improve your overall physical and mental health and result in an enjoyable day in nature. Go on a long kayak trip or just a short walk at the park — getting into the great outdoors even for a little while will benefit your recovery immensely.
Here are just a few outdoor activities to try:
- Exercise in nature: Instead of heading to the gym, do your exercising in nature. Just 30 minutes spent jogging through your neighborhood or walking to a nearby park will do wonders for your outlook.
- Make it a hobby: Combat boredom, give yourself an outlet and create a sense of purpose by incorporating nature into a new hobby. Whether it’s nature photography or hiking, you’ll fight your addiction triggers and gain a new skill in the process.
- Outdoor journaling: Many recovering addicts find that journaling about their experiences helps them process emotions and find hope. Your journaling can include nature, as you write about what you see, hear and feel while outdoors. You don’t have to share your work, and you don’t have to be a great writer to benefit from this exercise.
- Gardening: During your addiction treatment, it’s a great idea to learn about the importance of healthy eating and proper nutrition. Tending a garden allows you to work closely within nature and grow food that will nourish your recovery.
Does bad weather or your health prevent you from spending time outdoors? Even sitting in your backyard or pulling up a chair next to a window can restore a sense of calm and well-being.
Getting Started With Gateway Foundation
While nature therapy provides incredible benefits to those healing from drug and alcohol addiction, recovery starts with addiction treatment. At Gateway Foundation, we can provide evidence-based treatment programs to help you find relief from the trauma of addiction.
Contact us today to learn more about our individualized approach.