Stepping outside to get some fresh air, may be doing more good than you realize. Especially for someone in early recovery from addiction who is overwhelmed by the prospect of starting over and trying to heal, there may be several physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature in sobriety.
The Benefits of Being Outdoors in Addiction Recovery
While not everyone enjoys the great outdoors, just being outside for a little bit may be helping your physical and mental health immensely.
Some benefits of being outside in recovery include:
- Reduced stress
- Decreased depression
- Reduced anxiety
- More exercise
- Finding a new hobby
- Improved sleep quality
Between the withdrawal symptoms following a drug detox and the rush of drug triggers, early recovery can be stressful. Fortunately, one of the benefits of being outside for addiction recovery is that it may reduce stress. A study of college students found that just being in nature for ten minutes could decrease feelings of stress as well as physiological responses to stress like heart rate and blood pressure.1
It is not uncommon for those in recovery from addiction to struggle with depression, but another reason why being outdoors is good for you in recovery is because of its ability to combat these symptoms. Just 30 minutes a week of exposure to nature can reduce depression by 7 percent.2
Along with decreasing depression, one of the benefits of going outside during recovery is that it may help with anxiety. Combating drug triggers, facing loved ones, and starting over after you leave residential treatment can all lead to high levels of anxiety in early recovery. Some research suggests that people born and raised in a city environment have a 20% higher chance of developing an anxiety disorder.3 On the other hand, a 50-minute walk in nature may significantly decrease anxiety compared to a walk-in an urban setting.4
Getting outside also gives you a good opportunity to get active. Going for a walk or doing yoga in the park are all great ways to get moving outside. While you do not want to overexert yourself because your body is just starting to recover from your substance abuse, light exercise can work wonders for someone in addiction recovery. Not only can it help your physical health, but also it can have several other benefits such as improved mental health, cognition, and sleep.5
A New Hobby
One of the biggest causes of relapse in recovery is boredom, but finding a new hobby can keep you busy and on track in recovery. A benefit of the outdoors after addiction is that is provides a great landscape for a wide range of hobbies. Try a few different outdoor activities until you find something you enjoy and are passionate about.
Sleep problems are common among people going through withdrawal from prolonged substance abuse, but getting outside may help. Spending time outdoors, especially for an extended amount of time, may reset people’s internal clocks and improve sleep quality.6,7
The Best Outdoor Activities for Addiction Recovery
Some rehabs offer outdoor recovery programs to get their patients outdoors, but when you leave it is important to keep reaping the health benefits of being outside in recovery on your own.
Some outdoor activities in recovery you may enjoy include:
- Journaling or writing
- Yoga and meditation
- Drawing or painting
- Bird watching
All of these can be beneficial for several different reasons beyond just getting you outside. Some may have physical health benefits, and others could help you find a new purpose. Regardless of exactly what you do, it is important to make getting outside a part of your regular routine in recovery.
If you have not yet started your journey to recover or know someone who needs help, reach out to our care team at Vertava Health today. Our treatment centers use both evidence-based therapies and alternative addiction treatment practices to help people live out their best future.