Group of friends on country walk. Young people hiking in countryside.

Nature therapy, also known as ecotherapy, is a holistic treatment modality that uses our bountiful earth to its advantage in its endeavor to lead you through recovery.

How does nature therapy work?

On the most basic level, nature therapy promotes getting outside, appreciating being in nature and allowing that interaction to support you through your recovery. On a practical level, learning how to engage with nature while working on your recovery can teach you valuable skills and tools for both personal growth, and growth in your recovery.

Perhaps most importantly, nature therapy offers a method for sustaining recovery. Whenever you feel stressed, you could go for a hike, ride your bike, visit a park or even take a walk around the block and soak in the sunshine. You may even find yourself with a new outdoor hobby that you might not have tried if it weren’t for nature therapy.

What are the key nature therapy benefits?

When used as part of your holistic approach to recovery, nature therapy provides you with natural tools you can carry with you throughout your recovery.

Nature therapy has the potential to benefit all aspects of your life, including:

  • Increased happiness and general mood. Nature therapy promotes physical activity in nature, and physical exercise releases endorphins, or the “feel-good” hormones. Spending more time in nature can lead to an increase in the release of endorphins which can lead to elevated mood and happiness.
  • Physical exercise and improved physical health. Being in nature doesn’t always feel like exercising, but every time you explore a new park or forest you are improving your overall fitness levels. If you’re new to nature therapy, start small with short, flat hikes as you build up endurance and comfort in nature. When you are more physically fit, you will have more energy and feel better every day overall, which can help provide the motivation needed to sustain your recovery.
  • Improved mental health. While nature therapy on its own isn’t a catch-all cure for mental health conditions, it has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Nature therapy is also linked to an improvement in overall wellbeing.
  • Decreased stress. When stress builds up, it can make recovery feel even more difficult. Stress is brought on by a flood of the hormone cortisol in the system, and it can create a feeling of “fight or flight” when the amount of cortisol reaches certain levels. Being out in nature, whether by walking, running, hiking or another form of movement, can help reduce levels of cortisol and make you feel more at ease, thereby making you feel more secure in your recovery.
  • Healthy sleep. Good, restful sleep is integral for optimal brain health. As addiction is a disease of the brain, lack of sleep or restless sleep may trigger negative mental health symptoms which makes recovery more difficult. Nature therapy can help you relax naturally and incorporate physical exercise in your routine, which can help address sleep issues you may have experienced during your addiction while helping you naturally fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Improved self-confidence. Nature therapy gives you a project or objective to build from the ground up. For example, you may have the goal of hiking a large summit in your area. Hiking can be part of your treatment in nature therapy, but you will also have the added bonus of becoming more physically fit and learning how to cheer yourself on in tough situations. Finally achieving your goal of hiking the summit will boost your self-esteem and help you recognize how capable you are of overcoming adversity, be it a summit or your recovery. As you develop your abilities in nature and work through issues in therapy, you will start to feel more confident in yourself and in your recovery. 
  • New relationships. With so many different activities you can do through nature therapy, you are sure to find at least one that you love. Practicing these new hobbies can introduce you to new people with shared interests, and having this support system in place will help carry you through your recovery.

Silvermist Recovery offers nature therapy as part of our holistic approach to treatment. To learn more about how getting out into nature can help sustain your recovery, reach out today at 724-268-4858.