What Is Nature Therapy and How Can It Aid Recovery?

Many facilities implement alternative therapies into their programs. These are any methods beyond clinical, evidence-based treatments. Alternative therapies include things such as yoga, meditation, or art and music therapy. Another alternative practice some facilities may use is nature therapy.

Many recovering individuals are trying to prioritize spending more time outdoors as more research shows how nature can heal the mind, body, and soul. Nature not only helps you achieve overall well-being, it can also help individuals trying to heal from addiction. 

The path to recovery is not rigidly paved. You can create a life of sobriety for yourself in many ways, but they all begin with a single step. Nature therapy may be a formidable tool on your road to recovery if you give it a try today. 

Substance Use and Holistic Treatment

Before discussing the benefits of nature, let's examine why holistic treatment is such a crucial part of the healing process. A holistic approach to treatment is a whole-person approach to treatment. That means it does not just treat the addiction. It treats co-occurring disorders and helps the mind, body, and soul achieve overall well-being.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and evidence-based modalities help individuals achieve overall well-being, but alternative practices can heal the mind and soul more effectively. Additionally, experiential therapies, such as adventure therapy, can be effective in ways traditional therapy can not. 

At NorthStar Transitions, we use experiential therapy to help clients achieve well-rounded healing. These experiential therapies help clients step outside of their comfort zone and create more authentic relationships. Clinical practices, individual therapy, and group therapy are all vital components of recovery, but experiential therapy helps the walls come down. 

Types of Holistic Treatments

The types of holistic treatment available to clients are endless. Common examples include yoga and meditation, but individuals may also experiment with Tai chi or other Eastern spiritual practices. That is the beauty of a holistic approach to treatment — individuals can experiment with many practices and find the one that works best for them.

Additionally, holistic treatment is so appealing because of the history of its practices. While the phrase “holistic treatment” is modern, traditional practices included in holistic treatment like yoga and Tai chi have been practiced for centuries. These traditional practices can help people focus on treating their addiction, handling trauma, and getting to the root cause. Without addressing these aspects, recovery is often not very lasting. That is why treating each person as a whole is vital. 

Other forms of holistic treatment individuals may experience and can experiment with today include: 

  • Yoga 
  • Meditation 
  • Tai chi 
  • Mindfulness-based exercises 
  • Breathwork 
  • Aromatherapy
  • Massage therapy 
  • Fitness 
  • Nutrition 
  • Acupuncture and acupressure 
  • Art and music therapy 

Individuals may experience improvement in many areas of their life in addition to recovery with the help of these practices. They help maintain wellness, improve areas of physical, mental, and emotional health, reduce stress, teach healthy coping techniques, and provide spiritual connection in and out of treatment. Practices such as these can also help reduce the risk of relapse throughout recovery as well. 

So, where does nature therapy fit into all this? 

What Is Nature Therapy?

Like other holistic practices, nature therapy provides an alternative means for individuals to seek sobriety and improve their overall well-being. Nature therapy uses the outdoors to help promote healing for individuals with substance use disorder, other addictions, or mental health conditions. It can be molded to fit each individual in treatment. The different kinds of nature therapy they may experiment with include: 

  • Adventure therapy, which consists of outdoor activities that help individuals explore nature on their own or with a group. That may include something as simple as hiking or more intense activities. 
  • Nature therapy, which may also include animal therapy. Exposure to animals — such as dogs and horses — can help reduce the symptoms of a mental health condition and promote healing.
  • Therapeutic horticulture, or gardening, where individuals may begin with small planting and then move on to having their own garden or contribute to a community garden with others in a group setting. 

Some people may be more receptive to certain nature therapies than others, but the common denominator is that they get people outdoors. That is one of the most vital components of nature therapy, as time outdoors has several benefits. Fresh air and vitamin D exposure alone can do a number to improve health, but there are other benefits that come from being outside.

Nature Therapy and the Benefits of Being Outdoors

The outdoors has many benefits, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), "Being outside in green spaces supports an active and healthy lifestyle." Some of the benefits individuals can experience by going outside include reduced stress levels, reduced symptoms of depression, and improved mental health. The outdoors can also improve physical health conditions, like high blood pressure and respiratory function. 

People can start implementing nature therapy with a few life changes. Consider prioritizing going for a walk outside every day, even if it is only for 15 minutes, or bringing more plants into the home. A few changes can go a long way in helping individuals with their recovery journey. 

Nature has many benefits. It's beautiful, experiential, and has a number of healing benefits for your physical, mental, and psychological well-being. Nature therapy provides an engaging way for individuals struggling with addiction to recover. Spending time outdoors can promote healing, reduce stress and symptoms of depression, and even help with physical conditions like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory illnesses. Like other holistic practices, nature therapy offers a whole-person approach to addiction treatment that can benefit you in addition to evidence-based modalities and other traditional treatment methods. To seek addiction treatment today, call NorthStar Transitions at (303) 558-6400. There's no better place to experiment with nature therapy than in a luxurious lodge in Boulder, Colorado. 

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