Recovery and the Outdoors
There is a phrase most of us have heard: “the great outdoors.” It’s called “great” for many reasons. When you venture out into nature, it’s an invigorating and life-affirming experience. Fresh air, sunshine and seeing natural wonders—maybe something as small as a butterfly or as big as an ancient tree—can give you positive benefits that go beyond simple sightseeing with an outdoor recovery program.
One study examined the effects of being in nature combined with physical activity and found these experiences had important positive benefits (1). The study found that when people exercised in an outdoor environment, it had a significant effect on lowering blood pressure, as did indoor exercise, but outdoor physical activity also improved self-esteem and mood. Physical activities outdoors has more positive benefits as well.
Produces Endorphins Naturally
When you exercise, you are producing endorphins, which are “feel-good” chemicals that the brain uses to communicate with the body. Alcohol and many drugs do the same thing, but unfortunately with serious and harmful effects. Finding a way to naturally release endorphins into your system is an excellent way to feel good on demand, without the use of addictive substances that have serious negative effects and consequences. Releasing your endorphins with physical activity is an excellent way to feel “high” naturally.
Relieves Mental Illness Symptoms
For many, psychological symptoms may be a root of substance abuse. On the other hand, some people develop psychological illnesses from abusing drugs or alcohol. Physical activity can help with many of the addiction symptoms you may be experiencing.
Another study (2) found that exercising can help with a variety of psychological and mood disorders, especially anxiety, panic disorder and depression. Try a good outdoors workout like hiking, swimming, skiing or rock climbing. You’ll get the positive benefits that can help alleviate feelings of sadness, anxiety and agitation. When you exercise regularly, you’ll feel calmer, more relaxed and able to sleep better.
Improves Overall Mental Health
When you improve your mental health, you can enjoy the benefits of a clear mind, allowing you to prioritize what’s important to you in your life. Your enhanced mental health helps you stay on the sober track, as cravings and urges may occur while you heal from the effects of substance abuse. Building your mental strength gives you the tools you need to conquer temptations to live a healthy and rewarding life.
Exercising outdoors is simple and free. When you have the motivation to go outside and work out, you can do it anytime and have the benefits of exercising whenever you want or need it. While working out helps you stay stronger physically and mentally, you’re also ensuring you have the good health needed to keep away from temptations. You’re building your self-confidence while reducing any symptoms of mental health disorders. Outdoor recovery can also help you relax and enjoy the pleasurable effects of natural endorphins. It all adds up to an excellent experience. Stay fit, stay healthy and live a sober and rewarding life—and feel good doing it.