outdoor activities recovery

In Recovery? You Should Prioritize Outdoor Activities

Today’s blog is a collaboration piece written by Bethany Hatton. Bethany, a retired librarian with 32 years of experience, created PreventAddiction.info after her oldest grandson became addicted to opioids. Though she discovered there is no guaranteed way to prevent addiction; she was able to find many helpful resources that can keep the public up to date on the latest prevention, addiction, and recovery information.

There’s no magic solution to make your recovery journey quicker or easier. Recovery is a long, difficult journey, and there are many things that help you along the path. And, unfortunately, many things that impede your progress. As a result, you must actively seek out progress boosters, and outdoor activities certainly qualify as a positive outlet.

Here Comes the Sun

We owe a great deal of the great outdoors’ restorative power to the sun. While we are all well aware that too much sun exposure can be a very bad thing, many of us don’t understand the consequences of not getting enough sun.

“[The Sun’s] UVB wavelengths that sunscreens are designed to block also do some good: They kick off the chemical and metabolic chain reaction that produces vitamin D. Research shows that many people have low vitamin D levels,” notes Harvard Health. And what is the problem with low vitamin D? Beyond poor bone health, immunity issues, and higher blood pressure, a lack of this crucial nutrient has been linked to depression and other mental health disorders. Getting enough sunlight can help your mental and physical health during your recovery.

Restoration 101

Recovery is exhausting. Life is already tiring, and when you add the struggle of addiction, your body and mind can tire out fast. There are many theories as to why natural settings have such a restorative effect on people. Some believe it to be a spiritual connection, while some studies have posited that it has to do with giving your mind a break from your everyday life.

When we live in more urban areas and have to deal with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we are being forced to respond to a certain form of aggressive stimuli. This can quickly lead to cognitive exhaustion. A remedy for that mental fatigue is getting outside in nature, where we can experience more-pleasing, less-demanding stimuli. Put another way, being in nature is simply enjoyable and low-stress. Psychology Today points out that therapeutic wilderness programs have been a treatment used in addiction recovery for some time, and many treatment facilities prioritize nature walks and garden time.

Just step outside on a nice day and take a deep breath. Don’t you just feel better?

Supercharged Outdoor Activities

Any time you can step outside, go do it. If you can have a cup of coffee on your front porch, do it. Or if you can walk the dog around the neighborhood, you should do it! Any time spent in the fresh air is beneficial to your recovery. You should also look into developing some supercharged outdoor hobbies that benefit your mind, body, and spirit. These outdoor activities will get you that crucial outdoor time. But it will also challenge you mentally and/or physically, boosting your recovery efforts.

  • Mountain biking: for replacing depleted serotonin, nothing beat a good adrenaline kick. For the adventurous, this can be a great outdoor activity. Having the right bike is crucial to success, so do your research online to find the perfect bike for your budget.
  • Backpacking/hiking: explore the wilderness. Cheap, easy, and highly rewarding
  • Golf/tennis: leisurely, outdoor sports that will help you stay active and full of vitamin D
  • Kayaking/canoeing can be thrilling or leisurely, depending on your preference.

Beyond the benefits of simply being outside (which are well-documented), finding activities to do in nature can give you something to do. Outdoor hobbies are amazing for those in addiction recovery. Occupying your time is vital to success. And what better way to do that than with stuff that makes your healthier and happier along the way?

Do You or a Loved One Need Help?

Once you have followed these steps, you will have a good strategy in place to recover from your relapse. Remember that relapses are common and do not mean you are destined for failure. With a good support system, professional help and a will to succeed, you can kick your substance abuse habit once and for all.

At Cristina Panaccione and Associates we have two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients for addiction treatment. Check out some of our Coffee with a Counselor videos to learn more about the ways we can help you find recovery!

Photo by Stephan Seeber on Unsplash

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