Long periods of substance abuse can cause physiological changes that interfere with your ability to process specific experiences and emotions. In addition, symptoms of substance use disorder (SUD) may cause you to feel off balance. SUD can make it challenging to connect thoughts and emotions with your body’s reactions. Spending time in nature can help you relax and stabilize your mental health, allowing you to make more progress in treatment. Newport Beach Recovery Center offers several mindfulness-based therapies to strengthen your mind-body connection. Practicing these therapies outdoors or in a natural setting can increase the benefits.
The Therapeutic Benefits of Nature
Many people incorporate nature into various aspects of their recovery. In recent years, outdoor therapeutic modalities like adventure or recreational therapy have become more common. Research has shown that even virtual simulations of nature, including videos, sounds, and images, can positively impact your mental health.
According to a 2020 study in the Journal of Addiction, “[V]iewing nature has similar benefits to [mindfulness-based techniques] in the treatment of stress and negative mood.” The care team at Newport Beach Recovery Center collaborates with clients to find therapies that work for their unique needs. Our team encourages people to spend time outdoors as a way to enhance the effectiveness of talk therapy.
Reducing Your Risk of Relapse Through the Mind-Body Connection
Taking care of your physical and emotional wellness will help you heal faster. Mindfulness meditation can reduce your risk of relapse during early and ongoing recovery. Being out in nature lets you focus your thoughts on the present moment and increases self-awareness. Self-awareness can help you recognize when something feels off and reduce your risk of relapse by doing the following:
- Encouraging regular self-care
- Helping you connect specific thoughts with physical reactions
- Improving overall fitness and physical wellness
- Increasing mindfulness
Many activities — including outdoor yoga, deep breathing, and relaxation exercises — improve general health and self-awareness. Activities like outdoor meditation are an excellent way to reduce the risk of relapse and learn essential coping skills.
The Mind-Body Connection and Mindfulness
Mindfulness means looking at each moment as it comes and accepting it without judgment. Acknowledging sensations and thoughts without focusing on them can help you become more aware of your mind and body. In addition, being mindful of body movements, breathing, muscle tension, and thoughts will strengthen your mind-body connection. The mind-body connection increases mindfulness by doing the following:
- Improving focus
- Reducing stress
- Increasing self-awareness
Mindfulness is essential in recovery because it keeps you from focusing on intrusive thoughts, cravings, or compulsions. It also allows you to remain fully present in your surroundings.
The Effect of Nature on Your Health
Spending time in nature improves physical and mental health. According to research by the National Park Service (NPS), “Physical activity in a green space can improve cognitive control, short and long-term memory, and overall brain function.” Spending time out in nature does the following:
- Boosts the immune system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves mood and reduces symptoms of mental health disorders
- Increases energy
- Improves sleep
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
Even viewing images or videos of nature can positively affect a person’s health. Apps incorporating nature sounds or videos have many of the same emotional benefits as spending time in nature. Regularly spending time in nature can have a calming effect on your mind and body. You can also reduce the symptoms of mood disorders by being outside in environments like forests, beaches, or oceans.
Enhancing the Mind-Body Connection in Nature
Combining meditation and low-stress exercises in a natural setting can help you heal from the damaging physical side effects of substance abuse. Some everyday outdoor activities that will help you heal include:
- Mindful walking, meditation, or yoga
- Light exercise including walking, biking, hiking, jogging, or swimming
- Group activities like rock climbing, horseback riding, or boating
- Camping and spending the night outdoors
Newport Beach Recovery Center is located only 140 yards away from the beach. We have a wide range of beautiful locations nearby, including state parks and hiking trails, where you can enjoy nature. Our team also hosts regular group outings to provide a new setting for clients to practice essential skill development. Rather than keeping you entirely isolated, we teach you to handle your mental health in real-world settings.
Aftercare and Maintaining Positive Mental Health
You can incorporate outdoor activities like meditation or mindful walking into your everyday routine during aftercare. Maintaining positive mental health is easier when you take advantage of resources like local nature spots. You can even use time outdoors to connect with family or friends by making it a group activity that benefits everyone. Activities like camping, hiking, and even walking your dog can improve your mind-body connection if you practice mindfulness techniques. Being able to center yourself and remain self-aware will help you cope during challenging moments in aftercare.
Nature-based therapies and activities can improve your mental health and overall well-being. Science has shown that even minimal exposure to natural environments can benefit your health if you struggle with depression or anxiety. Spending time in nature makes it easier to become more aware of your body and how your thoughts affect your behavior. Improving your mind-body connection can help you recognize problem behaviors before they develop into maladaptive habits. Newport Beach Recovery Center encourages clients to take advantage of alternative, holistic therapies like adventure therapy or yoga. We can help you heal from the effects of substance abuse. To learn more about our services and programs, call our office today at (888) 850-0363.