Why Spending Time in Nature Can Help With Recovery

There are centuries worth of evidence detailing the healing power of nature. Immersion in nature has proven to be both physically and mentally therapeutic, especially while in recovery from a substance use disorder. By incorporating outdoor experiential services into our evidence-based treatment program, clients at Lake Ave Recovery are given the opportunity to enrich their mind, body, and spirit while bathing in the beneficial qualities of the natural environment.  

Benefits of Nature While in Recovery 

Simply being in nature has proven to have numerous psychological benefits for those in recovery, including reduced stress, anger, and fear as well as lower blood pressure and improved muscle tension. 

Research has shown that spending time outdoors can enhance self-esteem and reduce feelings of loneliness while also promoting more restful sleep. While outdoor activities are not a “cure” for substance use disorders, when used in conjunction with traditional therapeutic methods, they can help manage factors that put individuals at risk for relapse.

Connecting with nature can help people in recovery from addiction by giving them a new perspective on how to effectively spend their time while avoiding triggers and activities that may cause them to relapse. When shifting from a life of substance use to a life in recovery, a change of environment can be beneficial. Individuals can see their obstacles and come up with objective solutions more clearly in nature. 

Studies have evaluated the brain activity of people who spent time in nature to those who did not. Results indicate that the location of the outdoor experience does not matter. Whether they spent time in the city or a forest, individuals who spent time outside showed higher activity levels in their prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that is linked to stress, depression, and anxiety. 

Nature and the sounds of nature can also reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that stimulates the fight-or-flight response. 

Spending time in nature also been shown to:

  • Enhance memory Increase Mood 
  • Strengthen immune system
  • Improve sleep quality 
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Increase energy
  • Lead to weight loss
  • Increase self-esteem and self-confidence 
  • Improve absorption of nutrients and vitamins 
  • Strengthen respiratory system

The Power of Sunlight

People in recovery from substance use issues often report feelings of depression and anxiety while trying to navigate a new life. Sunshine triggers the release of serotonin in your body, a hormone that enhances mood and keeps you calm. Increased exposure to natural light may help reduce the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, a mood disorder that occurs during the fall and winter months when there are fewer daylight hours.

The sun is the body's primary source of vitamin D, making regular exposure to the outdoors is beneficial. Individuals can maintain healthy blood levels with just 10 to 30 minutes of sun exposure every day on average. Sunlight can also provide a natural euphoric feeling, improve sleep quality, and reduce feelings of loneliness.

Increased exposure of Vitamin D leads to increased absorption of calcium in the body, improving bone quality and helping fight osteoporosis.

How to Incorporate Nature into Your Recovery Journey

As the weather continues to get warmer, Lake Ave Recovery continues to integrate more activities that involve nature and the outdoors into our various treatment programs. Nature walks and hikes through nearby picturesque trails have quickly become client favorites. 

In addition to nature walks, we also offer outdoor yoga, Tai Chi, and meditation with a licensed practitioner. Strength and fitness sessions with Revive of the USA allow clients to strengthen their bodies and minds while absorbing the environment around them. The fresh air and beaming sun help make each activity even more refreshing. In the summer months, clients enjoy rides on Lake Ave Recovery’s boat along beautiful Lake Quinsigamond.

Any form of outdoor activity, whether it's in your own garden, a neighboring park, or a trip in the woods, can be beneficial.

Additional activities that will increase your time spent in nature include: 

  • Gardening
  • Birdwatching
  • Reading outside
  • Taking a walk 
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Outdoor recreational opportunities (fishing, biking, kayaking, etc) 

Forest Bathing 

At Lake Ave Recovery, we also provide clients with the opportunity to participate in Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-yoku. Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese phrase that means "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing." It was pioneered around 40 years ago in Japan and has since become an important aspect of all types of treatment as well as preventive medicine. 

The core concept is that merely going to nature and walking peacefully while taking in everything that nature has to offer provides restoration and rejuvenation. The idea of forest bathing involves remaining relaxed while connecting with nature using your senses of smell, sight, taste, hearing, and touch. 

Choosing Lake Ave Recovery for Your Treatment Needs

Addiction is a complex illness that often coincides with other mental health or medical issues. When trying to help a loved one battling a substance use disorder, it is critical to seek professional help.  At Lake Ave Recovery, we offer varying levels of care.

We guide individuals down a comprehensive addiction recovery path that includes a Day Treatment Program/Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), Evening Treatment Program, and a flexible Outpatient Program.

Our experienced medical and clinical staff use a comprehensive assessment to determine which level of treatment would be most suitable to ensure your loved one gets the help they deserve.  

At Lake Ave Recovery, we offer trauma-informed holistic care that includes an individualized treatment plan that focuses on a person’s strengths, needs, abilities, and preferences and incorporates mindfulness and experiences services into treatment. 

We offer various holistic and mindfulness services to coincide with our evidence-based treatment programs because we believe in a complete, whole-body approach to addiction treatment. We understand the importance of well-rounded care that includes a wide range of therapeutic and holistic services to heal on multiple levels and find what works best for clients when they return to their regular lives.

To learn more about our transformative treatment programs, call 508-794-4400.

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We have a longstanding foundation in the treatment and recovery community

Lake Avenue Recovery is a state licensed and Joint Commission accredited organization committed to promoting, maintaining, and restoring the dignity, well-being and mental health for those with substance use disorders and their families serving greater Worcester county and beyond.

  • 132 Years Clinical Excellence
  • 105 Years Recovery Experience
  • 8:1 Ratio Client to Staff
  • 12 Publications on Alcohol and Drug Use

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