The Healing Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
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The recovery process is always a challenging time. You’re still healing as you navigate the disruption your addiction has caused in other areas of your life. This is why it is so important you find the right tools to support you throughout your journey.
Spending time in green spaces can help. Studies have shown that regular contact with nature is linked to physical, cognitive, emotional, and even existential wellness. This is a period in your life in which you may find yourself to be more vulnerable. As such, finding ways to integrate the natural world into your daily life can have a bolstering effect on your recovery.
We’re going to take a moment to review the healing benefits of spending time in nature. What elements are important to bear in mind as you navigate your recovery? What types of activity can best suit your new needs?
Consider Your Holistic Wellbeing
Addiction of any kind tends to sap multiple areas of your health and wellness. A core part of the recovery process is about healing your whole self. Of course, there are the obvious mental and physical aspects to consider. But you may also have emotional and spiritual needs. Nature is a great tool for focusing on your holistic healing.
Your goal is to create a balance of activities to cover all areas of your wellness. Research the accessible natural spaces around you. You can then start to plan activities by the relevant benefits they provide. Remember, everyone in recovery will have unique needs, so plan the activities to match yours. It may be worth talking to your sponsor or counselor about this as they can provide insights into areas of your wellbeing to be treated as a priority.
There will certainly be some actions that address multiple needs. But kicking addiction the natural way isn’t just about choosing an activity to take care of all your needs in one fell swoop. You can schedule a run every other day to maintain your physical wellbeing and release positive endorphins. You could intersperse these with gentle walks in the woods to bring you closer to nature. These gentle actions give you space for clear thought and reconnect you to your spiritual needs.
Create Mindfulness Moments
Mindfulness has long been considered a tool in a successful recovery. After all, it helps you to be present in the moment and fully aware of yourself. This in turn helps you to recognize the challenges of each day, assess your responses to them, and plan how you move forward accordingly. Nature is an excellent focus for creating these moments of mindfulness in your day.
For starters, achieving mindfulness in your home space during recovery can be challenging. Taking some time in nature can be a useful separation from any chaos and present in your everyday life. Nature is stillness and peace. You get to focus on your breathing and pay attention to all aspects of your wellbeing.
It’s wise to use nature intentionally in your outdoor activities as well. This might include seeking out the sound of a gently babbling brook to anchor your meditation practice. It may involve choosing a simple and quiet hiking route to aid in a mindfulness walk. Could a clearing in the woods be the right spot for your meditative yoga?
Recovery is often about addressing the habits and behaviors that have a negative influence on your life. This isn’t just about the specific substance or focus of your addiction, but all the elements of daily existence you find triggering. Having new and healthy experiences can disrupt these negative routines. Head out on occasional adventures into unfamiliar parts of nature.
This is especially important if you live in an inner-city area. So much of modern life can serve to keep people stuck in the patterns they think they need to rely on. Taking a drive out to a national park, a new hiking trail, or a camping ground can give you access to space you don’t otherwise experience. Importantly, it’s an open area to relax and gain different perspectives on where you are in life.
However, it’s important to take reasonable precautions before you head out on an adventure. Make sure your car is packed with the essentials to ensure your safety while you’re on the road. This includes items for car maintenance — like jumper cables and a spare tire — as well as food and a first aid kit. You also need to prepare for the protection of your recovery. Make certain you are going somewhere with cell phone access so you can contact your sponsor or therapist if you find yourself struggling.
Bring the Outside Inside
Let’s face it, you’re not always going to have access to vast outdoor spaces or the ability to head out on regular adventures. This doesn’t mean you have no access to the healing qualities of nature. Bring elements of the outside world into your home.
Decorating your place with plants can be a significant mood booster and can minimize the effects of stress. Aside from the visual beauty of having thriving life around you, plants can also work to add beneficial oxygen and moisture to the air. These are all elements you’ll find will enhance your holistic well-being as you continue your recovery journey.
Taking care of plants also requires commitment, focus, and time. This can be a positive focus for your energy and attention at a time when you may still be battling with negative thoughts and feelings. Caring for a plant can teach you so much about the nurturing, love, and patience you also need to apply to yourself in your daily life.
Strengthen Your Relationships
Addressing your wellbeing is just the beginning of your recovery process. You may find your behavior has impacted the lives of those most important to you. As such, part of the healing journey involves healing those relationships. This helps your loved ones and acts as a boost to your own mental and emotional wellness.
You can, therefore, find it beneficial to invite your friends and family to accompany you on your nature activities. This takes both of you out of the familiar environments that may have featured heavily in your mutually negative experiences. As such, you have space to forge new memories in positive and natural surroundings.
Perhaps most importantly, these outdoor spaces can be a useful venue for open discussions. You don’t have the trappings of “territories” or triggering environments to make either of you feel unsafe. The de-stressing influence of natural areas can also make it easier to talk about difficult subjects without pressure. This helps you to rebuild trust, respect, and understanding so you can move forward together.
There are various tools at your disposal in navigating your addiction recovery. Spending time in nature is one that can help you to heal in multiple ways. It’s worth exploring which outdoor activities contribute to your holistic wellbeing and can provide fresh perspectives. You can also find the outdoors useful in healing and strengthening your personal relationships. Recovery is never going to be easy, but nature offers some resources to assist your journey.
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