The Astounding Recovery Benefits Of Nature Exposure
Nature is a fantastic medicine. Between fresh air, a cool breeze and natural light, The Great Outdoors have a lot to offer. The sense of freedom instilled by a long hike, or the refreshing experience of a lake swim, has a surprising amount of psychological benefits.
Elevate can reinvigorate your lost energy, giving you a firm grasp on your addiction recovery potential. Today’s leading drug detox treatment methods understand the powerful benefits nature provides. For this reason, it isn’t rare to see detox and treatment centers create nature-first approaches to recovery.
We believe all modern drug and alcohol detox centers should approach addiction recovery by opening the door to nature. If you seek self-reliance, motivation and a connection with nature, we’re here to help. Let’s explore nature’s benefits a bit more—and let’s begin your drug detox treatment the healthy way: a natural way.
How Nature Benefits Recovery
Being outside restores our psychological well-being. Human beings are meant to be surrounded by nature, but the modern world has made it difficult to do so. Between bustling urban environments, today’s living establishments and even the computer, many people don’t get enough exposure to nature.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health has even pinpointed nature’s impact on childhood development. The exposure to nature in one’s youth, they’ve discovered, is critically important to development. While our understanding of these impacts is still nuanced, more research is underway which seems to support this claim.
How Much Nature Exposure Is Necessary?
Understandably, many drug detox center patients wonder how much nature exposure is needed to benefit recovery. While the answer differs on a case-to-case basis, several experts have weighed in on the question. Reportedly, a mere 30 minutes of exposure to nature, per week, can reduce depression rates by as much as seven to nine percent.
This rate, of course, depends on the individual. An alcohol detox center patient who’s spent their life in a city, for example, may need more exposure to nature than someone who’s spent much of their upbringing in nature already.
Getting Away From The City’s Humdrum
On the topic of urbanization, it’s important to understand that under-exposure to nature is a prevalent factor in many of addiction’s underlying issues. With over 40 years of research, public health initiatives swear by nature’s benefits. Physically, getting away from the city’s humdrum—or even a life inside—has remarkable benefits, including:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced allergies
- Lower mortality from cardiovascular disease
Where mental benefits are considered, nature’s benefits coincide with those of the modern drug detox center. A drug detox treatment program might utilize nature in several ways, featuring programs involving adventure therapy, outdoor meditations or even a simple walk. The mental health benefits, themselves, include:
- Improved self-perceived general health
- Improved mental wellbeing
- Reduced stress
- Improved mental restoration
- Greater social wellbeing
- The promotion of positive health behaviors
Cities around the world are investing in public green spaces. The 100 largest United States cities, alone, have spent over $6 billion in 2015 to benefit these spaces. Their hopes are simple: Improve the physical and mental wellbeing of their citizens.
What About Frequency?
The use of nature-based recovery isn’t new, but drug and alcohol detox centers have started adopting it at a rapid pace. Science quantifying the links between health outcomes and nature experience is growing, and it’s becoming more in-depth.
Drug and alcohol detox centers generally understand how to measure “nature exposure,” however nebulous the term might seem. It can be measured by duration, as we’ve just covered. It can be measured by intensity and frequency, too.
While intensity is dependent on the patient experiencing nature, it can still be gauged in a few ways. Higher levels of vegetation, for example, can make a nature outing much more “intense” due to its higher degree of stimuli. A person who can see, smell and hear an environment packed with trees, animals and running rivers might benefit a bit more than one who visits a park.
Where frequency is considered, we should remember that more exposure to nature, in general, is better. Understandably, drug detox programs tend to carefully pick their nature exposure times to benefit individual patients. These detox and treatment centers understand how important the patient’s physical and mental comfort is. Thus, the exposure’s frequency is specific to the individual.
Mental Fatigue and Addiction Recovery
As any expert from today’s drug detox programs will tell you: Recovery takes effort. A strong discipline is the best way to overcome a looming addiction, but mental strength still plays a part. Sometimes, patients get fatigued. When they do, recovery can get more difficult.
Nature provides another vital benefit: mental fatigue reduction. Alcohol and drug detox centers around the world have stuck by research which supports nature’s fatigue-reducing cognitive benefits. So much so, in fact, that many have included elements of nature as part of their interior design. While the intensity of these natural inclusions may not be much, they still help.
Reportedly, even short-duration exposure to any natural element can deliver an immediate reduction in the individual’s blood pressure. This effect isn’t entirely physiological, either. It stems from immediate stress relief—as well as mental fatigue reduction.
By reducing mental fatigue, alcohol and drug detox centers boost the resilience of their patients. While some detox and treatment centers might include the above-mentioned nature elements within their walls, others have even created drug detox programs which expose patients to nature frequently. Small walks, or even a breath of fresh air outside, make all the difference.
Remember: Alcohol and drug detox centers are all different. No alcohol detox center is alike, and neither are drug detox centers. It’s important to determine your own needs before browsing detox treatment centers, as your personal preferences can—and should—play a role in your recovery.
Embracing Nature as an Addiction Recovery Tool
Before engaging your detox center’s nature-centric program, revel in the wonderful direct benefits of nature on addiction recovery itself. Detox treatment centers have expertly applied nature-based treatment foundations to help clients in three areas:
- Immediate post-addiction therapy
- Ongoing addiction recovery
- Long-term addiction recovery
Whether you’re enrolled at a drug or alcohol detox center or in recovery at home, nature-based therapies can help your journey from beginning to end. Let’s take a closer look at each area—expounding upon what makes a little nature particularly special.
Immediate Post-Addiction Therapy
Spending time with nature is a great way to jump-start a fresh, renewed lifestyle. No matter your history, spending time in The Great Outdoors can yield the cognitive benefits required to clear your head of substance abuse.
So they say, recovery is taken one day at a time. Detox treatment centers understand this, but there’s no reason to wait on your nature-filled adventure. As part of your immediate addiction detox, getting some fresh air can assist you by providing the following:
- Immediate relief from post-acute withdrawal anxiety
- Immediate relief from ongoing depression symptoms
- A new perspective to base your recovery on
In Ongoing Addiction Recovery
A drug or alcohol detox center which offers nature-filled exercises, exploration and therapy understands its patients’ needs. Once you’ve left the acute and post-acute addiction withdrawal stages, it’ll be time to embrace nature as an ongoing treatment tool.
Nature’s unique environment is the perfect atmosphere for self-healing. This is why drug and alcohol detox treatment centers use outdoor settings as part of ongoing treatment plans. Because outdoor settings lower a person’s stress levels, they let them gain a level head. As part of a treatment program, outdoor therapies provide the following:
- A higher sense of self-awareness
- A higher sense of self-sufficiency
- A greater sense of responsibilities towards others
- A greater sense of group cohesion
- Improved self-esteem
Learning to climb, build fires, fish, and hike has an incredible impact on one’s sense of self. While that is not practical during rehab, many drug and alcohol detox treatment centers focus on incorporating some exposure to nature as part of their client’s recovery plans. By reminding a person of how big and fascinating the natural world it, it can lessen the mental problems that can come with addiction’s struggles.
In Long-Term Addiction Recovery
While addiction can be managed during a patient’s main recovery, the shadow of addiction may never leave. You may become part of an outpatient addiction recovery plan—or, you might simply want to foster healthy habits to keep substance abuse at bay. Here, nature exposure is particularly helpful.
Addiction recovery is a long-term investment, and it’s also a lifelong journey. Your addiction recovery center will encourage you to invest time in positive activities, activities which will remain part of your life well beyond a program’s end.
Nature isn’t going anywhere, and you always have options available.
What Nature-Based Recovery Options Are Available?
We’re happy you’ve asked. Elevate offers a number of outdoor and experiential therapy options. During recovery, clients are urged to embrace nature’s finer options. Elevate offers exceptional inpatient drug rehab programs in two Northern California areas: one near South Lake Tahoe, and the other near Santa Cruz.
Both locations offer numerous access points to Mother Nature, including mountain, forest and foothill settings that offer beauty all around.
Clients are guided through mindfulness and therapeutic exercises when approaching these areas, so as to open their thoughts to new experiences. By beginning the adventure process, you’ll learn to reanalyze the parts of your life you’d like to revise.
Fostering Life Skills And Learning Tools
As part of your experiential therapy, you’ll be given a number of challenges to test your willpower, problem-solving and group engagement skills. People from all walks of life suffer from addiction—but nobody has to suffer alone. Nature-focused group activities are used to help clients observe their own behavior, triumph over their weaknesses and connect with others.
Your personal preferences, of course, are considered. Much of Elevate’s structure gets to the root causes of addiction. In doing so, it helps clients overcome relapse urges. Holistic therapy is supported by science, and it’s considered to be on the cutting-edge of modern clinical treatment.
Start Your Journey Today
Talk to an Elevate provider today, and become part of our growing community. Whether you’re in need of inpatient or outpatient services, we’re here to help introduce nature’s finest offerings. Our one-on-one counseling sessions can aid your journey towards self-realization. Meanwhile, our experiential exercises can introduce you to nature and greater peace.
The best type of treatment is personalized treatment. We assist clients from intake processes to graduation. Even once you’ve returned home, nature will always be a part of you. If you’re ready to take your first steps into a larger world, contact us about our treatment options. At Elevate, your life can become no longer a struggle, but an adventure.
Scott Friend, MSW, M.S.
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