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The many benefits of being out in recovery

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couple sitting outside on the mountain

Going out for fresh air may be more beneficial than you think. Especially for someone in early addiction recovery who is overwhelmed by the prospect of starting over and trying to heal, there can be several physical and mental health benefits to spending time in nature in sobriety.

The benefits of being outdoors in addiction recovery

While not everyone enjoys the outdoors, just being outdoors a bit can greatly help your physical and mental health.

Some of the benefits of being outdoors during recovery include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Decrease in depression
  • Reduced anxiety
  • More exercise
  • Find a new hobby
  • Improved quality of sleep.

Reduced stress

Between withdrawal symptoms after a drug detox and the flood of drug triggers, early recovery can be stressful. Fortunately, one of the benefits of being outdoors to recover from addiction is that it can reduce stress. A study of college students found that simply being in nature for ten minutes could decrease feelings of stress, as well as physiological responses to stress, such as heart rate and blood pressure.1

Decrease in depression

It’s not uncommon for those recovering from addiction to struggle with depression, but another reason 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

Reduced anxiety

Along with decreasing depression, one of the benefits of getting outdoors during recovery is that it can help with anxiety. Fighting drug triggers, confronting loved ones, and starting over after leaving residential treatment can lead to high levels of early recovery anxiety. Some research suggests that people born and raised in an urban setting are 20% more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.3 On the other hand, a 50-minute walk in nature can significantly decrease anxiety compared to walking in an urban setting.4

More exercise

Going out also gives you a good opportunity to be active. Going for a walk or doing yoga in the park are great ways to get around outdoors. While you don’t want to try too hard because your body is just beginning to recover from substance abuse, light exercise can do wonders for someone in addiction recovery. Not only can it help your physical health, but it can have several other benefits as well, such as improving mental health, cognition, and sleep.5

A new hobby

One of the biggest causes of recovery relapse is boredom, but finding a new hobby can keep you busy and on the road to recovery. One benefit of the outdoors after addiction is that it provides great scenery for a wide range of hobbies. Try a few different outdoor activities until you find something that you enjoy and are passionate about.

Improved sleep

Sleep problems are common among people with long-term substance abuse withdrawal, but going outside can help. Spending time outdoors, especially for an extended period of time, can reset people’s internal clocks and improve sleep quality.6.7

Best Outdoor Activities for Addiction Recovery

Some rehab centers offer outdoor recovery programs for their patients to get outside, but when you leave, it’s important to continue to reap the health benefits of being outside in recovery on your own.

Some recovering outdoor activities you can enjoy include:

  • Trekking
  • Keep a journal or write
  • Reading
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Photography
  • Draw or paint
  • Bird watching
  • Gardening

All of these can be beneficial for a number of different reasons beyond simply taking it outdoors. Some may have physical health benefits, and others may help you find a new purpose. Regardless of what exactly you do, it is important that making outdoor activities part of your regular routine during recovery.

If you have not yet started your journey to recovery or know someone who needs help, contact our care team at Vertava Health today. Our treatment centers use both evidence-based therapies and alternative addiction treatment practices to help people live their best future.



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