Hi all, I have a guest post for now. I’ll be posting for myself soon again but for now I have an article from Michelle Peterson. This is a topic I believe in and would love to dig a little deeper but for today, I’ll let Michelle’s words speak.
How the Outdoors Can Help with Addiction Recovery: Michelle Peterson
There are numerous therapies and treatments for those who are dealing with addiction. Most aim at getting a clean by weaning off substances. Some focus on achieving this through counseling, while others use group meetings where problems are related and discussed. An effective complement to any recovery treatment, however, is as close as the front door.
Outdoor Exercise Is Fun
The outdoors are good for your physical and mental health, both of which support addiction recovery. When we feel stronger, we are able to take on the physically and emotionally draining process of recovery. For many, exercise is facilitated outdoors. Some people loathe going to the gym and running on a treadmill, but they will gladly walk for an hour on a beautiful day. That enjoyable walk might be as beneficial as 30 minutes on the treadmill.
Sunshine Is Healthy
When we go outside, we benefit from more than just the physical exertion. Our bodies need vitamin D, the cheapest source being from sunlight. While overdoing your sun exposure can increase the risk of skin cancer, moderate sunlight exposure strengthens your bones and fights seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression often experienced in the winter months when outdoor activities are less pleasant. By increasing our mood, outdoor activities can motivate us to tackle something difficult.
Nature Is Restorative
There are several studies linking exposure to nature and improved mental health. When around green spaces such as parks and forests, depression, anxiety, and stress are lessened while overall cognitive ability is increased. Scientists believe that, in a manner similar to how SAD affects some in the winter, being removed from the outdoors — as is common with many who are alcoholics or addicted to drugs – goes against our inherent nature. On a basic level, humans connect with the outdoors, and returning to nature can provide a restorative spark that aids recovery. There is an observed reduction in the level of cortisol, the natural chemicals the body releases when under stress, in those who spend time outdoors.
Nature Walks Can Replace Pub Crawls
Another benefit of outdoor exercise is how, as a positive activity, it displaces opportunity for less healthy actions. Those who are busy walking, hiking, and spending time outdoors are less likely to engage in drinking or doing drugs because their schedule is full. They’ve replaced idle time that might be spent getting high or fostering negative emotions with positive, happy, outdoor energy burning. Many outdoor athletes avoid drinking since it negatively affects performance. Outdoor sports, therefore, do not have the cultural adhesion to drinking and drugs that may be present in other activities such as gambling and going to nightclubs.
Spending time outdoors makes us feel good, which on its own can create the ideal environment for recovery success. And since exposure to sunlight and opportunities to exercise further heightens our moods and discourages substance use, outdoor activities can be a key component to recovery.
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