What Benefits Can Nature Bring to Recovery?

Constant improvements in modern technology have affected all of us in more ways than we will ever realize. For example, nowadays, adolescents and young adults often spend more time on social media than they engage in their interpersonal relationships in person. Another consequence of the rise in technology is the inherent disconnection of people from nature and the vast beauty of the world surrounding them. Despite nature being known to foster incredible benefits in all areas of an individual’s wellness, nature is being increasingly taken for granted every day. 

If you are a young adult seeking recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) or a mental health condition, it is important to understand the benefits that engaging in nature can bring to your recovery. Learning how to disconnect from technology and tune in to the endless beauty of the world that surrounds you can enable mindfulness, including elements of gratitude and emotional regulation. 

Technology and Addiction

Despite the dramatic increases in technology users across the globe, there is very little discussion happening about the consequences of problematic technology use. Digital addictions are affecting millions of lives every day. A meta-analysis from Clinical Psychology Review assessed the prevalence of digital addictions across the globe. Their findings were as followed:

  • For smartphone addiction, nearly 27%
  • For social media addiction, nearly 18%
  • For internet addiction, nearly 14.5%

First, it is important to reiterate that these are global prevalences. While there is not yet research on the prevalence of these addictions in the United States alone, it is appropriate to assume that the statistics would be much higher. This is because the United States is one of the most technologically advanced and innovative countries. Still, these global prevalences of use shed light on the rise of technology-related issues across the globe as well as the increased consequences that may result from problematic technology use. 

Is My Technology Use Mindless?

Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, many people make excuses for their heavy use of technology to convince themselves that their use is not problematic. In many cases, people will use the internet or their computers as part of their daily career lives. In other cases, however, many people use technology to relax and disconnect from reality. Isn’t it ironic that many people also turn to alcohol and other drugs to disconnect from reality?

Problematic technology use shares many similarities to SUDs and other types of addictions. Both shift our focus away from the present moment. Additionally, both can contribute to long-lasting changes in our brain structure and associated functioning that often requires professional intervention to reverse and treat. When we are working to recover from either or both digital addictions and substance addictions, it is vital to focus our attention back on the present moment. Fortunately, your journey with mindfulness can begin by walking outside your front door.

Disconnect to Connect With Nature

Whether you are feeling glued to your phone for purposes of entertainment or using substances to destress after a long day, you must learn to disconnect from addictive behaviors to truly connect with the world around you. Engaging with nature has been well-researched for fostering incredible physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health benefits. Additionally, connecting with nature can provide various benefits for your recovery. 

The Benefits of Viewing Nature

You may think that you can only reap the benefits of nature by physically interacting with it. However, research by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows that you can receive a number of benefits from merely viewing nature. Some noted benefits include:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced stress
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Increased directed attention

Substance abuse, digital addictions, and other mental health disorders can lead to a variety of physical and emotional consequences. If you are in recovery from any of these conditions, these benefits of nature can be incredibly beneficial for your emotional healing. 

The Benefits of Engaging With Nature

Directly engaging with nature can also provide you with a number of benefits for your recovery. The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) explains that, in general, nature can make you smarter, stronger, healthier, happier, and more productive.

Offers Opportunities for Stress Reduction

For example, nature offers an abundance of opportunities for you to engage in exciting, physical activities, such as biking and hiking. Exercising in nature can decrease substance use cravings as well as offer a valuable coping mechanism for stress reduction and management. 

Strengthens Your Immune System

Additionally, NPS also explains, “Walking in nature reduces inflammation and boosts your immune system, which decreases the risk of certain diseases and cancers.” Your immune system may be compromised from lack of exercise or substance abuse. By merely taking regular walks in nature, you can improve your immune system and, in turn, improve your overall physical health. 

Provides Opportunities for Spiritual Growth and Reflection

Nature can also provide you with endless opportunities for spiritual growth. When you are engaging with nature, marvel at the unknowns of the universe. Engage in mindfulness and explore your gratitude for the physicality of life. Allowing yourself to explore life’s uncertainties without judgment or pressure can be freeing as it enables you to discover your deepest values and beliefs. In other words, disconnecting from technology or substance use to connect with nature can motivate you to identify and focus on what truly matters in your life. 

With the rise of technology, digital addictions are becoming more prevalent. Digital addictions can often co-occur with substance use disorders, significantly affecting your ability to engage and interact with the world around you. Fortunately, you can address your wellness in your recovery by walking outside your front door. Nature offers endless opportunities for stress reduction, spiritual growth, and more during your recovery. 12 South Recovery encourages our clients to engage with nature and other mindfulness practices to enable effective and long-lasting recovery. We offer a wide range of treatment options, including holistic therapies, that we can incorporate into your treatment plan. To learn more, call us today at 866-839-6876.

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