The Health Benefits of Nature in Addiction Recovery
Imagine a stressful day at work, where you feel as though you are surrounded by one painful encounter after another. For a person in addiction recovery, high stress levels can trigger the desire to use a substance to find relief. Since substances are off limits, other options for stress relief are required. Getting out into nature is a wonderful way to reduce stress, gain perspective, and prompt creative problem-solving.
Nature Can Ease Depression & Anxious Feelings
Life is challenging, and sometimes feelings of anxiety and depression can overwhelm the day. During these tough times, the brain isn’t producing enough dopamine, a hormone that helps us feel pleasure and happiness. Nature can stimulate dopamine production; just going for a walk, sitting in the sun, or doing an outdoor sport or activity can create those feel-good feelings.
For those with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or panic disorders, stepping outside for some fresh air may genuinely help to steady the heartbeat and shed the negative feelings. Meditating outdoors can help to center your thoughts during intense symptoms, allowing you to find peace.
Nature Battles Stress by Reducing Cortisol
Going for a run is a good way to burn off frustration, anger, and stress in general. When a person engages in physical activity, their body burns cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol is flowing through your bloodstream whenever you feel stress. It’s meant to give your body the ability to fight whatever’s happening. In today’s society, most people are not running for their lives. As a result, cortisol remains in the bloodstream for long periods, creating a rapid heart rate, increased breathing, and sharper mental focus.
Since most of us are not regularly engaging in physical combat, we need another way to burn off excess cortisol. We can do this by engaging in physical activity, such as a run or brisk walk through the park. That’s why you may feel better after a good workout. Reducing cortisol reduces stress. That keeps your mind off the use of drugs and alcohol.
Nature Can Spur Creativity
Spending time outdoors alone gives you time to think. It enables you to process more complex situations by clearing your mind. At the same time, it may spur creativity. A simple hike gives you time to think about what’s happening in your life and can inspire ideas and solutions.
If you enjoy creative activities like writing or painting, take them outside. For example, try painting nature scenes. Use what you see, hear, and smell as inspiration for your next project. Or, collect natural materials to make a collage or centerpiece to decorate your home.
Work Through Mental Fatigue
Mental fatigue is much like physical exhaustion. Rather than your muscles being tired, your brain feels overwhelmed and overworked. Constant use of drugs and alcohol can cause mental fatigue, especially if you’ve used them for a long time.
During drug addiction therapy, you’ll need to spend some time allowing your brain to heal. Media taxes the brain. Constant information streaming through technology heightens sensations of stress, making it hard to think creatively and with perspective.
Nature allows for a break from all of the stimuli around you. Spend a day fishing on a lake. Go on a long walk into a wooded area, sit down, and look around without your phone in hand. Don’t react to the internal pressure to take a selfie or to check your email. Just sit and take in your experiences; this helps heal the brain from fatigue.
How Can Stress Relief & Nature Heal Your Body & Mind?
No matter where you are right now in addiction recovery, giving your brain time to work through stress, fatigue, or pain is necessary. Taking a break from the demands of the day to sit on your patio and watch the sunset is a simple way to get started. Or, go for an evening walk. Start with 10 minutes, try to make it a routine, and watch your health improve.
If stress or bad feelings overwhelm you to the point where you worry about relapse or have already relapsed, it’s never too late to start again. Let our team at Victory Addiction Recovery Center help you develop the tools to thrive.
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