Benefits of Outdoor Addiction Recovery and Treatment
- Kate Pindera
- 9 Aug 2021
Making an effort to focus on outdoor addiction recovery can work wonders for you and your path to a more sober life. The mere act of stepping out of the house to catch some fresh air and get your daily dose of sunshine comes with many positive physical and mental health benefits.
In this article, we’ll talk about the effects of outdoor addiction treatment, or being outdoors for maintaining sobriety, and how you can harness the healing power of nature for your recovery.
What Is Outdoor Addiction Treatment?
Wilderness therapy, or outdoor addiction treatment, encourages people coping with substance use disorder to reconnect with nature to create a positive experience that can ultimately create a clear path for recovery. Outdoor addiction treatment activities help newly clean individuals break free from the vicious cycle of addiction by helping them develop self-awareness. Outdoor addiction treatment also teaches individuals how to process and manage their emotions without resorting to relapse activities.
The immersive experience of outdoor addiction recovery activities can potentially make a difference in the treatment progress of people resisting traditional addiction therapies. Outdoor addiction treatment can also benefit those who still need additional emotional and social support as they transition back into society after completing rehab.
How Outdoor Addiction Can Aid Treatment and Recovery
Countless studies link spending time outdoors to significant improvements in health and well-being. These include:
1. Outdoor Addiction Treatment Improves Sleep Health
Insomnia and other sleep disorders are common drug withdrawal symptoms that recovering individuals deal with. Getting adequate sun exposure helps reset and regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm that controls the regular sleep patterns. Improving your sleep quality comes with its own set of cascading benefits, including energy boost, minimizing mood swings, better decision-making, and relapse prevention.
2. Outdoor Addiction Treatment Relieves Stress and Anxiety
Whether it’s taking a weekend camping trip to explore the wilderness or strolling in a local park for a few minutes every morning, any outdoor addiction recovery activity offers respite from the daily stresses of everyday life. When left unaddressed, stress can pile up and be emotionally overwhelming for newly sober people who just got out of rehab.
A new study shows an impressive reduction in stress and anxiety levels within minutes of exposure to nature as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain activity. In addition, the levels of cortisol, or stress hormones, also drop when people spend time in lush, green spaces.
3. Outdoor Addiction Treatment Reduces Risk of Depression
Being one with nature also boosts endorphin, serotonin, and dopamine production, promoting happiness and minimizing the risks of depression. Doing outdoor addiction recovery activities allows you to replenish your body’s natural supply of beneficial vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, which has proven benefits for enhancing moods and treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
4. Outdoor Addiction Treatment Enhances Self-Esteem
In expert-guided outdoor addiction recovery treatment, participants are taught essential life skills to survive the wilderness like:
- Building a fire
- Setting traps for predators
- How to make water potable
- Building your own shelter
- Foraging and hunting
- Cooking and meal preparation
Redirecting your attention and learning something productive can feel empowering and can boost your self-esteem as a result. It helps break the pattern of negative thinking by replacing it with new and positive experiences.
5. Outdoor Addiction Treatment Lessens Loneliness and Boredom
Loneliness and depression are two of the most notorious relapse triggers. Keeping your mind busy with outdoor-based hobbies, like running, trekking, or hiking, prevents you from being idle. It’s also an excellent way to bond with your friends and family or meet new people who can potentially be a part of your support network.
Outdoor Addiction: “Nature Prescriptions” for Health
Although many drug and alcohol rehab centres are now offering outdoor addiction treatment, incorporating this principle as an essential part of your daily lifestyle and recovery journey may be even more beneficial. In addition, you don’t necessarily need to escape to the wilderness or be in the forest to experience the healing power of nature.
A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research discovered that simply spending 20 minutes outside in the park, even if you do not exercise, can dramatically improve your mood, reduce stress, and overall life satisfaction.
According to the study’s co-author Hon Yuen, director of research in the occupational therapy department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the majority of the respondents noted that just stepping out of their house to enjoy green spaces was enough to create a shift in their emotional well-being.
Go Outside: Outdoor Addiction Treatment Activities
Nature is a free healing source that everyone should take advantage of. Even if you’re not the outdoorsy type of person, there are many ways to incorporate this principle into your everyday life. Take it in small doses and while doing the things you love.
Here are some ideas for outdoor addiction recovery activities:
- Drink your morning coffee in your garden or front stoop
- Walk your dog
- Run around your block every morning
- Take your workout outside
- Start a backyard garden
- Try forest bathing
- Have picnic dates with friends on weekends
- Check out the local parks near you
- Go to a spot where you can watch the sunrise or sunset once a week
- Go stargazing or look for shooting stars
- Visit a national park
- Eat your lunch al fresco
- Play catch with your dog or kids
- Swim on a beach or lake
- Book a weekend camping trip
- Try “grounding” by walking barefoot on the grass or beach
- Take a friend on a fishing trip
- Ride your bike to the office or when doing errands
- Learn an outdoor sport — tennis, surfing, swimming, anything outdoors!
- Explore nature photography
Outdoor Addiction Recovery and Relapse Prevention by Freedom From Addiction
Freedom From Addiction offers Relapse Prevention programs that aim to provide continuous support for newly sober individuals, including counselling, life skills training, personalized fitness, and outdoor addiction recovery activities.
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