There is a reason we associate rainy days with feeling blue. Being cooped up inside all day isn’t fun. The body responds to being outdoors and experiencing all that fresh air and sunshine have to offer. That’s not just a poetic metaphor, either. There is actual evidence that going outside makes you healthier.
Spending time outdoors provides ample opportunity for physical exercise. Hiking and climbing elevations, in particular, can improve a person’s metabolism and spur weight loss. Hiking also helps people relieve pent up stress and aggression, which is excellent for one’s mental health. Getting some fresh air, sunshine and exercise outside also might alleviate sleep issues and promote more restful nights for better days ahead.
Putting the phone down and taking a break for some fresh air and a stroll relieves ADHD symptoms and improves overall brain function. Furthermore, the vitamin D we soak up through the sunshine is essential for maintaining the health of bones and teeth, regulating insulin, promoting cardiovascular health and supporting the brain, nervous system, and immunity. Finally, the outdoors make us happier, relieve stress and help us age with grace.
Addiction, Treatment and the Outdoors
While just about everyone can benefit from some more time outside, those in addiction recovery should especially take advantage. Addiction is a serious condition that overtakes a person’s entire life. With addiction, a person participates in compulsive behaviors, of which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to continue to pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences. People can be addicted to many things including substances like alcohol, drugs, and nicotine. They can also become addicted to behaviors that aren’t inherently dangerous-- things such as shopping, surfing the Internet, or even drinking coffee-- but they become destructive once the user loses control of their behavior.
Treating addiction is complex and often depends on individualized recovery methods. However, there are certain lifestyle changes just about every physician and addiction counselor can agree upon when it comes to facilitating a sober lifestyle. These lifestyle changes includes creating a daily routine of exercising, getting enough quality sleep, taking time to relax and pursuing new hobbies or interests. Spending more time outdoors can help those in addiction recovery accomplish all these important lifestyle changes.
Outdoor Activities for Addiction Recovery
Spending time outside is as easy as opening your door and walking out into the sunshine, but that really just scratches the surface of the amazing opportunities nature provides. Outdoor activity options are almost limitless and there is something for everyone’s particular interests. Explore as many options as possible to find the open-air activities that most appeal to you. Incorporate your favorite pursuit into your daily and weekly schedule as a way to incorporate exercise, mindfulness and relaxation into your life. Furthermore, come up with new goals to pursue within your favorite activities as a way to motivate a healthy lifestyle and improve self-esteem.
- Take an outdoor yoga class where you can incorporate the benefits of spending time in the fresh air and sunshine with the mental and physical benefits of yoga.
- Meditate outdoors. A nice spot outside provides a balance of melody and rhythm that encourages concentration with some natural distractions that can improve your practice. If you want to practice mindfulness but you hate sitting still, just about any outdoor activity can serve as a form of meditation if you approach it with intention.
- Swimming is a gentle aerobic exercise perfect for those who experience joint pain. Even if you aren’t trying to burn calories while in the water, simply floating can be good for your mental health.
Spending time outdoors is good for both physical and mental health. For people recovering from addiction, the benefits can contribute to a healthy and sober lifestyle. From taking a hike to floating in a creek, every little thing a person does outside helps them reconnect with themselves as well as the larger world at hand so they can avoid triggers that make them revert back to compulsive and destructive behavior.