It is a relatively well-known fact that exposure to nature is a great way to foster good mental health. But did you know that studies show that even just viewing pictures of nature scenes can actually help reduce cravings to engage in substance use? When you think about how just looking at an image of nature can help you to be more calm and level-headed, imagine how much more powerful the benefits of actually being out in nature could be.
Exposure to nature is an excellent tool in recovery. If you are in recovery, consider adding this type of therapy to your daily routine.
How Can Exposure to Nature Help Reduce Stress?
Consider how busy your day-to-day life is. Do you find yourself rushing from one thing to the next without ever taking the time to be present in the moment? Perhaps you fall into bed at night without ever having had the chance to reflect on the day or how you’re feeling. Aside from our daily responsibilities, they are also a wide variety of distractions around us on a nearly 24/7 basis. This is especially true in this day and age. With new forms of technology, we are almost constantly stimulated. Just about everyone has their phone at their side at all times.
This access to constant stimulation causes some people to feel as if they need to be constantly entertained. But in reality, overstimulation can lead to trouble focusing, stress, and even depression. These are the last things that someone in recovery needs to worry about. When you’re in recovery, you want to make sure you’re doing everything possible to ensure that your mental health is as strong as possible and that you’re managing stress effectively.
One of the best ways to get away from overstimulation is to get out into nature. Nature is not only calming, but it’s quiet. The sound of the wind blowing or birds chirping is far less distracting than a ringing cellphone, blasting music, or television. When you’re out in nature, and away from these distractions, you can think clearly. You can process how you’re feeling, ground yourself, and reconnect with the real world around you.
Some people like to do yoga while out in nature. Others like to meditate, practice breathing exercises, or journal. But it’s also beneficial to simply sit in silence and do nothing but be in the moment. Slowly, you’ll begin to feel your stress drift away.
What Are the Other Benefits of Nature Exposure in Recovery?
You’ve probably heard that vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is very important for preventing sickness, boosting your immune system, and keeping your body functioning normally. However, did you know that it also plays a vital role in healing from addiction? Vitamin D can help prevent relapse by improving your mental health. Making the time to get outside in the sun for even just 30 minutes a day could make a massive difference in your overall well-being. It may even help reduce cravings you may experience.
Another great benefit of nature exposure is that it can create a sense of balance. When you have time to be alone and sit with your thoughts, you can recharge. This can allow you to return to your daily life as a more patient, level-headed person. You may even find that it helps you improve your relationships with others.
How Do I Incorporate Nature Exposure Into My Daily Life?
Sitting alone in the woods or some other isolated spot may seem appealing to some but not others. You have plenty of different options for incorporating nature into your daily life. Just think about what you enjoy doing. Maybe you have a garden you enjoy tending to. In fact, gardening and helping to foster life can benefit your mental health. As a bonus, it gets you outside and into nature.
Perhaps you enjoy exercising and want to incorporate more of it into your daily life. Instead of going to the gym, consider taking a walk or going for a jog outside. Not only does it get you outside, but overall, exercise is excellent for your mental health.
Consider including family or friends during your time in nature. You could go camping or start a recreational sports team if that’s your kind of thing. Spending time with your loved ones during recovery can not only help you to rebuild your bond with them but can also help take your mind off any possible temptations.
Some other ideas of how to spend your time in nature include the following:
- Dog walking
- Nature photography
- Reading a book outdoors
- Enjoying a sporting game
- Drawing or painting scenes out in nature
Spending time out in nature is not only important for your mental health, but it can also play an important role in your recovery journey. There are so many distractions in our day-to-day life. When you get out into nature, you’re able to leave all that behind and think clearly. You can process your emotions and reconnect with yourself. This can help alleviate stress and make you more able to say no to temptations. Being outside also allows you to soak up vitamin D, which is very important for your overall health. If you’re struggling with substance use disorder, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today to learn more.