Nature can help the healing process during your recovery journey. Studies have correlated the promotion of both physical and mental health with exposure to nature. Therefore, your environment is an essential factor in your well-being and supports you with your recovery. While nature is not the only component of environmental health, evidence suggests that nature can temporarily relieve mental health symptoms and potentially have sustained long-term effects.
Reduced Routine Nature Contact
As technology progresses, our frequent contact with nature decreases. This is partially due to the popularity of cities being the epicenter of employment, social opportunities, education, healthcare, and cultural experiences. Of course, nature is only one piece of the puzzle that makes up your environmental health, but relaxing in nature could help you manage your stress and make it easier to access career, social, or educational opportunities.
Sometimes there are physical barriers that may prevent you from experiencing nature. This could include your work schedule or lack of access to parks, bodies of water, or hiking trails. However, researchers have found that a population’s proximity to nature is associated with a better sense of overall well-being. Even in urban areas, access to gardens, trees, and some natural vegetation can significantly impact a person’s physical and mental health.
Being in nature can provide a multitude of benefits for your mental health. These benefits come from the sounds, sights, and feelings produced by nature. The more emotionally present you are when participating in nature-focused activities, the more you will feel its sensory effects. Even listening to natural sounds produced electronically can promote a sense of destressing and calm, though it tends to be less effective than the real thing.
Studies have been conducted on both green spaces, such as trees and grass, and blue spaces, such as oceans, lakes, and different bodies of water, reporting the benefits on people’s health. Making a regular habit out of hiking, going for a walk, playing outside sports, biking, or even just sitting outside and observing nature can significantly enhance both your mental and physical state. Exposing yourself to the world’s natural beauties can give you a sense of calm and peace within yourself just from the awe of its sheer beauty.
Stress Reduction and Mental Health Benefits
One of the benefits of exposure to nature is that it pulls you away from stressful environments. For example, it’s harder to obsess over a work assignment or how many people liked your social media post when you are out in nature. In addition, being in nature makes it easier to practice mindfulness by promoting a sense of physically “being away” from the busyness of your day-to-day life.
Nature provides sights, sounds, and sensations that can be used in mindfulness-based meditation and grounding techniques. The practice of mindfulness allows you to process your emotions thoughtfully and encourages you to take a moment to pause during your busy life. This can prevent you from obsessing over overwhelming or negative thoughts during your recovery and make it easier for you to welcome positivity into your life. Choosing a treatment center that encompasses nature in its program is advantageous to your recovery.
Screen Time Removal
Outdoor activities peel you away from your screen. Screens can keep you distracted and unproductive, worsening your mental health symptoms. Social media is designed to be addictive and, in doing so, shortens your attention span. Studies have shown that having more than an hour a day of daily screen time decreases psychological well-being.
Heavy screen time use can also cause poor sleep quality or sleep deprivation. The more time you spend in nature, the more benefits you reap from having less screen time. People who spend more time in nature tend to sleep better and have healthier cognitive functioning.
Promotes Physical Activity
Going on a hike, bicycling, or even jogging might feel like a more pleasant pastime than staring at a timer on an elliptical at the gym. It gives you the space for your mind to wander and the extra adrenalin that comes with taking in the beauty of nature.
Going on a hike can give you a sense of accomplishment without putting unnecessary pressure on yourself and your body to complete the hike in a certain amount of time. The amount of calories burned isn’t imprinted right in front of your face allowing you to enjoy the physical activity without the looming stress of reaching a specific and possibly unattainable goal. When physical activity is enjoyable and feels like less of a chore, you are more likely to do it and reap its benefits regularly.
Being in nature can help you take control of your substance use and mental health symptoms. Making a routine of exposing yourself to nature could promote mindfulness practices like meditation and grounding. Restoration Recovery Center knows that a successful recovery takes more than abstinence. We understand that everybody will need different resources to manage their substance use symptoms and meet their recovery goals. We offer a variety of modalities, such as skiing and hiking, and encourage the use of nature to help guide you through your healing process. Our mental health professionals work closely with you to help you find the right tools to help you heal and rediscover your life’s purpose. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, please call (888) 290-0925 to learn how we can help you achieve long-term sobriety through treatments that focus on the body, mind, and spirit.