Here’s Why You Should Add the Great Outdoors to Your Addiction Recovery Plan
There’s a lot to think about as you enter recovery from a life-consuming addiction to drugs or alcohol. You’ve gone to treatment, but what does life look like outside of the residential treatment center? Your life in recovery can and should be filled with activities that bring you meaning. One place to find joy: the great outdoors.
You don’t need to go far away from civilization in order to reap nature’s benefits. Taking a short walk after lunch through the park on your way back to the office is a great way to get outdoors; walking a dog every day or even just enjoying a cup of coffee on your porch are all small things you can do to increase your time outdoors. No matter who you are or where you live, there is almost definitely a park or trail accessible to you at no cost, any time you need it.
Mixing your time outdoors with exercise is a great addition to any recovery plan. Exercise of some kind, whether you most enjoy a vigorous session of weightlifting, going for a jog or just taking a walk around the block, is essential for regulating your body’s internal mechanisms like appetite and circadian rhythm. By changing the setting of your exercise from an indoor facility to an outdoor setting, you can increase your physiological defenses against depression and anxiety.
Getting outside can give you the mental space you need to remain centered and focused on your life goals. Spending time in natural settings has been shown to replenish your ability to direct your attention, making it easier to ignore cues that would have triggered you to use in the past. Surrounding yourself with nature will not remove the reasons you’re anxious or upset, but it will give you the space to think through your situation in an emotionally nourishing environment.
Bringing a group of friends, a partner or close confidant on your walk through the park can not only provide you with a sympathetic ear and outside perspective on the issues you face, it can also boost the benefits you both receive just from being outside. You’ll return home with a closer relationship to someone you love and happier than you were when you started out.
Now that finding and using your drug of choice is no longer your main goal, you are free to stroll through the park, on your own or with loved ones, and soak up the natural beauty of a world you can see with clear eyes.
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