The Importance of Spending Time in Nature During Addiction Recovery

Spending time outside surrounded by nature can be calming. Whether you hike a forest trail, walk on the beach, or plant flowers in your garden, being outside will likely make you feel peaceful and refreshed. Although everyone benefits from spending time outdoors, it is especially beneficial for people in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction. 

Being in Nature Affects Your Overall Well-being and Reduces Stress

Being in nature, or even seeing nature scenes, reduces stress, anger, and fear while increasing pleasant feelings. Many people with substance use disorders suffer from stress and anxiety.

Some people self-medicate and use drugs or alcohol to escape painful thoughts and emotions. As substance use turns toward addiction, anxiety and stress increase. Being in nature gives their mind and body time to rest as they relax.

Research shows your stress levels can increase or decrease because of your environment. Your environment affects your mood and how your endocrine, nervous, and immune systems work. For example, being in an unpleasant environment increases your stress level. You feel sad, helpless, or anxious. Your feelings cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, your muscles to tense, and your immune system to weaken. When you are in a pleasant environment, the opposite happens.

Spending Time in Nature Encourages Exercise

When you spend time in nature, you are more likely to move around. Whether you go for a hike, ride a bike, paddle a kayak, or take a leisurely stroll, getting exercise has numerous benefits for people in addiction recovery. Physical activity is known to curb cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms. It also helps boost your mood, relieve stress, increase energy, and deepen sleep.

Being in Nature Improves Brain Functions

When a person is going through withdrawal, their body is adjusting to the absence of drugs or alcohol. During this time, many people have cognitive problems. They may have trouble concentrating, focusing, or solving problems. Spending time in nature improves their problem-solving skills, cognitive functions, and ability to focus. Being in natural surroundings gives the brain a chance to rest and promotes creative thinking.

Being in Nature Strengthens Your Immune System

When you spend time outside, your immune system gets a natural boost of Vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight causes the body to naturally release Vitamin D, an essential hormone needed for a healthy immune system.

Spending Time Outside Reduces Loneliness and Boredom

Often people in the early stages of recovery have difficulty finding ways to fill their time. While in active addiction, they spent their time thinking about getting their next drink or drug, obtaining it, and drinking or using it. With time to fill, boredom and loneliness can set in, causing those in early recovery to have a higher risk of relapse. Finding something they enjoy doing outdoors fills their time in a positive way. They have the chance to meet people with similar interests.

Being in Nature Elevates Your Mood

In the early stage of recovery, depression is common. Adjusting to a new sober way of life takes time. Some people may be dealing with the consequences of their addiction, making them feel down. Getting outside and spending time in nature is a great way to boost your mood. 

Being in Nature Facilitates Self-Awareness and Mindfulness

When a person is in active addiction, they feel isolated and alone, often hiding their addiction from family and friends. With prolonged drug or alcohol use, an emotional and mental disconnect happens. Many people suffering from substance use disorders are unaware of their actions or the consequences of their actions when drunk or high. They have no self-awareness and do not realize they have hurt people during that time. Mindfulness techniques help a person gain control and self-awareness. It focuses on being in the present moment to increase mental clarity. Being in nature is a wonderful time to practice mindfulness.

Addiction is Treatable

Addiction is a chronic brain disease. It is treatable. Do not let it continue to ruin your life. If you or someone you care about is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, now is the time to get the help you need. At English Mountain Recovery, in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, our highly skilled staff of caring professionals will guide you through recovery. Take the first step to regaining your life. Contact us today.