Being outdoors can bring a sense of peace like nothing else in the world. Natural sunlight. Fresh air and warm breezes. A stillness and sense of freedom that shapes a new perspective.
Many people rely on Mother Nature to relieve stress and stabilize their moods, which is why this therapeutic practice is often included in outpatient treatment centers in Denver. Spending time in nature is an easy, accessible and affordable recovery tool that is open to everyone.
Unfortunately, between smartphones, electronics, smart watches, etc., we’ve drifted further from nature. Some people no longer know how to connect with the outdoors and use these bounties to lift their mind, body and spirit. This is especially important for people in recovery who must learn new ways to cope with stress.
Here at Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado, we firmly believe that spending time in nature is good for the soul. Let’s discuss some of the reasons why nature should be a part of your alcohol recovery in Denver.
What Role Does Nature Play in Addiction Recovery?
Being outdoors has scientifically validated benefits for human health. It’s no wonder why our ancestors used to spend the majority of their time outdoors! Studies consistently show that people who spend time in nature are healthier and happier. They feel more connected to themselves and others and understand their greater purpose in life.
Seeing the bigger picture is helpful to sobriety because addiction often makes people selfish and withdrawn. While you were using, you probably disconnected yourself from others who cared about you. You may have also dwelled on your problems and blamed others for your addiction. This is the disease of addiction at work, not the real you behind it.
When you get sober and start spending time outdoors, you have endless opportunities to reconnect with yourself and see the greater picture. What are your strengths? When was the last time you were truly happy? What is your reason for being here? Nature will give you a new perspective on life and keep you busy and engaged in your recovery.
Vitamin D and sunlight
Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin” and an essential nutrient our bodies release in response to sunlight. However, for people who live in cloudy environments or spend a lot of time indoors, it’s possible to run short on Vitamin D. Abusing drugs and alcohol can also make people deficient.
Even though Vitamin D deficiencies are common, they can still cause problems. For example, if your Vitamin D levels are low, you may experience:
- Muscle weakness
- Bone pain
- Mood changes
- Susceptibility to infections
A simple blood test will tell you if you have a deficiency. It’s important to check these levels, as low Vitamin D can increase the risk for relapse. Your doctor will probably recommend a combination of supplements, Vitamin D-rich foods and time outdoors until you can restore your levels.
People who seek outpatient rehab in Denver often struggle with mental illness as well. They may use drugs and alcohol to numb their symptoms, or their substance abuse may lead to symptoms of depression or anxiety. If you are dealing with both addiction and a mental health problem, spending time in nature can improve the symptoms of both disorders.
Consider this story. In 2013, 10,000 people participated in the 30×30 nature challenge through the David Suzuki Foundation. The purpose of this challenge is to spend 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days. Here is the impact that this simple exercise had on its participants:
- Increased sense of well-being
- Higher energy levels
- Reduced stress and negativity
- Fewer sleep disturbances
- Greater productivity on the job
- Improved happiness
If you’re having a hard time finding happiness in your recovery, we encourage you to get outside. Start small – just 30 minutes a day is enough to jumpstart a nature habit that lasts a lifetime.
In a previous post, we talked about the importance of spirituality in the recovery process. As a reminder, being spiritual is not the same as being religious. It’s about connecting with something greater than ourselves and discovering a purpose in our lives. And what better place to be more spiritual than in nature.
Nature offers peace, calmness and serenity. Even the brain recognizes when it’s in nature, as it produces brain waves that are similar to what you experience when meditating. Here are a few tips for deepening your spiritual connection to nature:
- Make a commitment to connect with nature
- Create time alone in nature
- Find a good place to sit and reflect
- Relax and observe your surroundings
- Listen to nature (this may seem foregin to Western culture, but the trees, animals, etc. all communicate)
- Bring a journal to write in
Ideas to Get You Outdoors and Loving Nature
As a person in recovery, you’re just getting to know yourself and the things you like to do. Spending time outdoors may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual rewards that await. Here are some ideas to ease into an active outdoor lifestyle that prevents boredom and encourages sobriety:
- Explore your local parks. Download a map of the local parks in your area and make a plan to visit each one. Check out Pinterest for scavenger hunt ideas!
- Walk a dog. If you don’t want to walk alone, walk your dog or your neighbor’s dog. Trust us – they’ll appreciate it! Pets provide companionship while allowing you quiet time.
- Watch the stars. Some people find peace and solace in watching the stars. Grab a pair of binoculars and look for constellations and planets. The night sky is vast and always changing!
- Grow a garden. Planting a garden gives you something of your own to watch grow. Use the ingredients to make fresh foods, or can the fruits and vegetables for the winter.
- Play sports. Sports are an easy way to pass the time outside while burning calories and strengthening the muscles. Join a softball league, take a swimming class or practice yoga in the park.
Getting outside is one of the easiest ways to strengthen your addiction recovery from alcohol or drugs in Denver. The best part is – it’s accessible and available to everyone! As you spend more time outdoors, you can deepen your connection with yourself and Mother Nature, making you a stronger and more resilient person. To start a holistic recovery that encompasses nature, contact Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado today.