Nature: the cure for your mind, body, and spirit

The sunrays gracing your skin, the cool breeze in your hair, the crickets chirping in the distance: there is a sense of serenity that comes along with being outdoors. Not only is nature a beautiful escape from everyday reality but it can have life changing effects, particularly on those recovering from substance abuse.

Countless studies have proven that nature has many therapeutic benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. Nature can make people feel more energized and less stressed while also increasing levels of happiness. Believe it or not, according to a study published in National Geographic, planting just 11 extra trees on a street boosted the residents’ happiness level as if they had each received a $20,000 raise. Yes, you read that right. Trees can make people as happy as money.

Everyone can benefit from time outdoors, but for those in recovery, nature can be the difference between sobriety and relapse. Many clinicians believe that spending too much time indoors is dangerous for recovery because it can lead to feelings of isolation, boredom, and depression which can trigger a relapse. Finding a treatment program that integrates wilderness therapy or adventure-based counseling can increase the rate of long term success in recovery. These outdoor activities promote personal growth, establish a deeper connection with the world, foster a stronger sense of self-awareness, teach communication techniques and teamwork, and demonstrate how to enjoy life without substances.

While the benefits of nature are undeniable, the idea of spending time outdoors after treatment can seem daunting, especially if you are not a particularly outdoorsy individual. But there are many simple ways to sneak some nature into your life. And no, you do not have to hike the 1,100 mile California’s Pacific Crest Trail like Reese Witherspoon did in the movie Wild to find yourself.

Simple Ways to Spend Time Outdoors After Treatment:

Take a Walk: Walk your dog. Walk to work. Go on a nighttime stroll. Even 20 minutes of walking a day can make a huge difference when it comes to reducing stress and improving sleep quality.

Change How You Eat: Stop eating in front of your computer! Step away from the TV! Instead, enjoy a meal on your patio or have a picnic in the park. You will enjoy your food more and soak in some vitamin D in the process.

Get a Hobby:  Take up gardening. Try outdoor photography. Go fishing. There are lots of outdoor hobbies that do not require athletic ability.

Vacation Differently: Go camping. Go to the beach.  Explore the world. Nature is naturally relaxing which is exactly what a vacation should be. Next time you go on vacation avoid the chaos of the city and make it a nature vacation.