How Can Nature Benefit Your Recovery?
Mindfulness is the act of slowing down and reconnecting with your mind, body, and spirit through non-judgmental self-observation. When you do it, you can better care for yourself. There can be a lot of shame associated with substance use disorder. Mindfulness requires that you look beyond substance use and the shame associated with it, remember who you are, and rekindle the light within. Nature is a wonderful teacher of mindfulness. That is why it is the perfect tool to experiment with during recovery. There are also many health benefits to using nature as a recovery tool.
Healing Properties of Nature
A recent study was done to figure out how long a person needs to spend in nature to obtain the wonderful health benefits of nature. Researchers concluded that we need 120 minutes, or two hours, a week. For just two hours of your week, you can gain more peace, less depression, less anxiety, a calmer respiratory system, and better overall health. The best part about this is it doesn’t matter if you go outside in 20 minutes increments each day, or if you go for two hours one day a week. The results show, as long as you go outside for a maximum of 200-300 minutes or 3.5 – 5 hours, after that the benefits plateau. This allows flexibility for each individual to be able to create their outside schedule in a way that best fits them.
Being outside not only helps people combat depression, anxiety, and stress; it quite literally changes your brain chemistry. Walks in nature help settle a person’s prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain associated with memory and repetitive thoughts. This is better explained by a study done on mindfulness and behavior change.
It states, “Growing mechanistic evidence suggests that different types of [mindfulness meditation] engage associated frontoparietal network brain areas both structurally and functionally, differentially influencing psychological and cognitive outcomes.” This is pretty much addressing how outside stimuli affect the entirety of the frontoparietal network, where the prefrontal cortex resides. When this part of the brain is settled a person is calmer and can better control their negative thoughts.
Ways to Utilize Nature in Healing
Nature is such a simple, yet powerful tool. There are many ways that a person can utilize nature in their healing. The best part about it is you can personalize it to match your life, you don’t have to follow a guide. A few ways you can incorporate nature into your life are:
- Go on walks outside
This is a rather basic idea. However, it is a very easy way to incorporate nature into your life. The quickest and easiest way to achieve your 20 minutes of outside time goal is by setting a 10-minute timer as you walk in the opposite direction of your home. Then simply, walk back. This allows you to meet your goal without overthinking it or overdoing it.
- Play games outside
As people get older, the accessibility to things like team sports goes down. This makes it harder for people to engage in them, but team sports are a great way to get some exercise but also get some vitamin D and make friends! The easiest way to engage is to find a local, public place to play your favorite sport and join a pickup game.
- Take a hike
If you enjoy daily walks adding weekly glorified walks, or hikes, to your schedule is beneficial. Hikes are a lot more challenging than walks because they are usually done in hilly or rocky terrain. Finishing a hike can give you a great sense of accomplishment, too. It can remind you that you are capable of completing hard tasks.
- Exercise outside
This is an easy way to kill two birds in one stone. Exercising outside rather than a gym or your home is a great way to get vitamin D and all the other added benefits of being outside. This could include doing yoga in a park or even going on a run outside.
- Find an outside safe space
Contrary to popular belief, time outside does not always have to be dedicated to movement. If you have a favorite place outside where you can enjoy just chilling out then, go there and enjoy it. You can bring a good book, a loudspeaker, or even a pen and a notepad. Find ways that are appealing to you to enjoy being outdoors and engage in them!
Healing Through Nature
Nature is very important to humans. This is not a suggestion, it is something that you should do! Nature is so powerful that just sitting outside in silence and listening can help lower stress hormone levels. We are meant to be connected to nature, so as you work to heal yourself, rekindle that connection.
Today’s society has disconnected us from nature in major ways. It may be hard to even find joy in thinking about the great outdoors. However, once you get outside, you see it is a wonderful tool to help your mind and body heal. Plus, the positive reaction that your body has when experiencing nature is well worth the slight discomfort. Substance use disorder can be extremely hard for individuals and families to combat alone. It can feel even harder when you don’t know how to go about giving your body what it needs to heal. It does not have to be an arduous guessing game. Mountain Peak Recovery is here to help. Located in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains of Utah, Mountain Peak Recovery is the perfect place to retreat to discover the healing power of the great outdoors. If you or someone you love is dealing with a substance abuse issue call, (801) 824-8829.