Healing in Nature Through Outdoor Adventures and Field Trips

Healing in Nature Through Outdoor Adventures and Field Trips

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Since the founding of the first national park in 1872, it’s been acknowledged that healing in nature is transformative. For many, even talking about being out in nature conjures images of outdoor adventures, camping trips, and deep talks around a campfire. Regardless of whether it involves a bonfire in the backyard or a sojourn into the woods, healing in nature is possible.

There is more to healing in nature than just the metaphysical experience of being outside in the wide world. Scientists have long known that vigorous exercising has tremendous impacts on our psychology and ability to cope with stress. Physical activity causes the body to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, sometimes called the “happy hormone,” leading to improved mental health.

Healing in nature leads to a journey of self-discovery and an uplifting connection with the natural world. At First Steps Recovery, clients engage in wilderness therapy and embrace the natural world as a place of healing. Incorporating field trips, outings, and wilderness therapies into our treatment program builds resilience and greater purpose in client’s lives.

The Power of Healing in Nature During Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Healing in nature can be one of the most freeing experiences one can have after enduring the pain of addiction. Seeing the wider world as it is shows people the continuity of life and hope.

According to the USDA Forest Service, science reveals that our biology is geared to benefit from spending time outdoors, exercising, and relaxing in the sun. One of the most prominent examples of these benefits is the time spent exercising and practicing wellness outdoors.

Wellness happens when a person is hiking, riding bikes through a neighborhood or on rugged mountain paths, or running on trails. Whether playing tennis on outdoor courts or swimming in natural waterways, exercise is important for health. The power of healing in nature is at one’s fingertips, and one simply needs to grab hold of them.

Nature-Based Interventions for Substance Use Treatment

The truth is that nature-based interventions for physical and mental wellness are well-documented and known to improve individuals’ overall health. In a study published in the journal Sports, researchers isolated several reasons why physical wellness is prescribed in seven countries. Among these were:

  • Illness prevention
  • The promotion of well-being
  • Treating specific conditions (physical, mental or social health, and well-being)

In the study, scientists identified nature-based strategies aimed at changing the environment of the people being treated. Scientists then charted how behaviors changed in the individuals undergoing treatment.

The Value and Wellness Benefits of Healing in Nature

There is some evidence that society’s lifestyle and work style play a part in the rise of poor mental health. For example, the human body is designed to convert sunlight into vitamin D, which itself plays a part in mental health. Deficiency in vitamin d is linked to depressive symptoms.

Being outdoors, in green spaces and sunlight, has a profound impact on the body’s ability to cope with stress and health issues. Nature has a positive impact on the treatment of mental health conditions as part of a holistic solution in treatment.

How Wilderness Therapy Works to Help You Find Healing in Nature

Wilderness therapy may seem like an idea out of the 1972 movie Jeremiah Johnson in which the main character struggles to survive in the woods, but its benefits are clear. In a study published by the USDA Forest Service, researchers discovered the benefits of incorporating this therapy in addiction recovery. Researchers found wilderness therapy to be effective in treating adolescents with behavioral issues and addictions.

That is only one of the studies that prove wilderness and nature therapies work. Healing in nature helps connect people to the world and uniquely ground them. This is why wilderness therapy is a key component of the treatment program at First Steps Recovery.

The Many Ways to Find Healing in Nature

Let’s widen the lens now and begin to explore the diverse and wondrous pathways individuals can use to find healing in nature. Being in the outdoors bestows many benefits that improve mental, emotional, and physical well-being. There are many ways everyone can immerse themselves in the power of healing in nature and find profound transformation. The benefits of those nature-based activities include:

  • Improved concentration: Spending just 20 minutes in a natural environment improves concentration while walking outdoors improves cognitive function and memory.
  • Increased strength: Exercising is a key component to improving physical health including improvements in stamina and performance. As a bonus, when people exercise outdoors they build stronger ties to the community around them.
  • Physical health benefits: Thirty minutes of moderate exercise daily improves circulation, which improves heart health and blood pressure. This same amount of exercise also lowers cholesterol and decreases the risk of certain diseases and cancers.
  • Mental health benefits: Being outdoors and listening to the wind, birdsongs, and the sounds of the world around us has a calming effect. These activities have been shown to improve overall well-being while assisting in stress reduction, boosting mood, and reducing fatigue.
  • Greater happiness: Walking in nature just five minutes a day improves happiness and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. In addition, according to the National Parks Service, this activity reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 15%.
  • Improved productivity: Having more cognitive control and restoration increases brain function and long-term memory. Those changes can have a profound impact on one’s ability to achieve goals.

Regaining Your Health and Vitality in the Great Outdoors

There is no doubt that spending time outdoors is good for the body and the soul. Study after study shows the positive health benefits of exposure to green spaces.

At First Steps Recovery, clients find the outdoors at their fingertips. Clients may experience this through wilderness therapy or field trips to impactful places. No matter where a person goes, the wide world is all around them, waiting to be explored.

We are so busy in our modern world, constantly distracted by technology and working sun up to sundown for our jobs. However, it is important for each of us to take time to step back, rest, and reset. As the autumn season and cooler weather approaches, many people are itching to get back outdoors and experience the healing power of nature. At First Steps Recovery, we know that immersing yourself in nature helps you connect to the world and to each other. This nature immersion aids in recovery. Whether you are engaging in field trips or wilderness therapy, we have a treatment that is right for you. Call us at (844) 489-0836 today, and discover your natural path to healing. 

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