What Role Can Nature Play in Addiction Recovery?

Nature can serve as a vital space of healing for those who are recovering from addiction. According to a study done by the University of Plymouth, the exposure to “green spaces can lessen the cravings for cigarettes, alcohol, and unhealthy foods.”The study confirms this exposure can have positive effects regardless of participation in physical activity. This is especially important because it shows that nature can help improve someone’s process of recovery by them simply spending time in it.“Shinrin-yoku” or forest bathing, is a therapy in Japan that actually fights against the mental health stigma that is so prevalent in the country. Supported by the country’s Forest Agency, spending time in the forest is recommended to help combat the effects of the intense Japanese working conditions.The forest helps to relieve stress, which is a common trigger for addicts in recovery. Therefore, addicts can use nature as their own form of therapy in conjunction with medical therapies to aid in their recovery.

What Are the Benefits of Nature?

Nature has numerous benefits on the human body, inside and out. Spending time in open, green spaces away from the activities of the modern world can do more good for you than you may think.

Alleviate Anxiety & Stress

Studies done by universities have shown how nature can lower your anxiety and stress. By doing this, your productivity then increases. The studies show this by measuring the blood pressure and the number of white blood cells in the bloodstream of people that spent time in a natural environment.The results of the studies show that nature reduces stress and lessens triggers for those in addiction recovery. The less stress you have, the better you can sleep, and the less you focus on negative thoughts. You can also gain a sense of natural euphoria from forests or other green spaces that can not be duplicated with the use of drugs or alcohol.

Vitamin D

When humans spend time in the sun, the amount of vitamin D in their bodies increases. This is an essential nutrient needed to help heal the body from addiction. Low levels in the system can lead to an increased risk of relapse. By simply spending time outside in the sun, you can advance the effectiveness of your recovery.


Getting away from the world of technology and quick streaming once in a while is crucial to help alleviate stress. Maintaining a sense of balance by taking a moment to be present in the quiet of nature is crucial. Being unplugged, away from constant notifications, emails, and alerts can give your mind a break. By being engaged in nature, you become more aware of your surroundings. This causes you to be more present and mindful.


Connecting with others is easier in nature, as people are more willing to help each other and offer support, according to some university studies. This willingness to support one another creates a sense of fellowship and belonging between individuals.

A New Perspective

Getting out into nature is a humble reminder of how small you are compared to the grand scheme of the world. Your problems are tiny in comparison to the world around you. Nature gives you a perfect place to contemplate your thoughts away from the chaos of everyday life. As you take in your surroundings, troubles seem to become less intense.

Suggestions for Enjoying Nature

There are numerous things you can do to motivate yourself to go outside and enjoy nature. Finding what works for you is vital to your recovery to help you avoid boredom and reap the benefits that nature has to offer.


While the study done by the University of Plymouth states that physical exercise is not necessary for alleviating stress while in nature, physical exercise is recommended. Exercise releases “feel-good” hormones in the body such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins.By finding joy in an activity that doesn’t involve drugs and alcohol, you will begin to replace old habits with healthy, new ones. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous, you can simply take a stroll through greenery to seek enjoyment.


Gardening provides a more direct, hands-on approach to nature. Planting seeds and being responsible for their growth and progress can be an incredibly gratifying aspect of your recovery. Some studies have demonstrated how soil can trigger the release of serotonin, boosting your moods and immune system.You don’t need to have a big garden to take part in gardening. You can have plants in your house or take part in a local community garden. You can also build connections with other people through this, as you meet people that also have an interest in taking care of plants.

Friends & Family

Those that are supporting you in recovery will most likely be glad to accompany you outside to spend time together. By enjoying the peace that nature brings, you can rebuild relationships and trust with family members or friends. Also, having another person present can hold you accountable for actually going out into nature for your recovery.

Other General Suggestions

  • Riding a bike
  • Going for short walks in your local neighborhood
  • Meditating in nature
  • Birdwatching
  • Spectating at a local sporting event
  • Hiking
  • Reading a book outside
  • Taking pictures of nature you see around you

Many treatment centers utilize the benefits of nature in their approaches to addiction recovery. The various benefits that nature brings to humans are crucial for healing and alleviating stress. You tend to feel better after going outside whether it be for exercise, gardening, or just taking a stroll. In conjunction with other medical therapies, nature can be a valuable therapeutic tool in your journey to sobriety. For more information, you can contact NorthStar Transitions today at (303) 558-6400.

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