Renaissance Ranch

How the Outdoors Can Benefit Your Recovery Journey

Feb 24, 2024

Healing can be a tedious process, involving a wide range of efforts toward establishing and sustaining whole-person wellness. As individuals connect with treatment and begin their recovery journey, however, there are many things that they can do to stay actively engaged and remain intentional about their healing. For instance, the outdoors can benefit an individual’s recovery through mere exposure to green spaces and nature, as well as by providing endless opportunities for physical and spiritual growth. Thus, learning to take advantage of all that nature has to offer through different activities and practices outdoors can enable joyfulness alongside lasting success in recovery. 

At Renaissance Ranch, we are committed to helping men recover from addiction and substance use disorder (SUD), as well as the root causes that inform them. We offer treatment programs and plans throughout the full continuum of care, utilizing a combination of evidence-based practices, 12-Step philosophy, other spiritual and faith-based principles, and trauma-informed care. Moreover, since the outdoors can benefit recovery greatly, we can incorporate adventure activities in treatment as well as through our Band of Brothers alumni network. 

How the Outdoors Can Benefit Wellness

There are a plethora of studies that confirm the wide range of wellness benefits that the outdoors can bring to health. Contrary to what some may believe, merely being outside can improve health. When an individual is outdoors, they immediately breathe cleaner air, as surrounding plants and vegetation are recycling carbon dioxide and, in turn, generating clean oxygen. Breathing in clean oxygen increases blood circulation, which directly boosts energy levels and brain function. 

In addition to breathing in cleaner air, the outdoors can benefit health through exposure to sunlight. UV exposure boosts vitamin D levels, which is an essential vitamin for well-being. As explained by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), vitamin D is important for gut and bone health and is responsible for reducing inflammation, stimulating cell growth, and improving immune function. 

Meanwhile, according to Environmental Research, “[N]atural and green areas promote health due to the opportunities for physical activity that they present.” Exposure to green spaces can improve motivation to engage in physical activity, as there are endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. More specifically, “Physical activity in a natural outdoor environment has been associated with reduced negative emotions and fatigue, increased energy, improved attention, as well as greater satisfaction, enjoyment and a greater intent to repeat the activity.”

Additional health benefits of being outdoors can include:

  • Reduced cortisol (stress) levels and improved relaxation
  • Stimulated social interaction
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • A greater connection to nature and community
  • Improved mindfulness; including concentration and focus

Using the Great Outdoors to Sustain Recovery

Just as the great outdoors can enable improved health outcomes, it can also foster improved outcomes for individuals in addiction recovery. In addition to participating in essential individual and group treatments, connecting with the outdoors can benefit recovery by fostering opportunities for mindfulness. 

Setting aside time to intentionally engage with the outdoors can be a healthy way for the mind to relax, unwind, and rejuvenate, particularly by being present. The outdoors can curb rumination, intrusive thoughts, and the intensity of substance use triggers by reminding an individual about the importance of connecting to something greater than themselves. 

Additionally, focusing on nature and the breath can improve attention, decrease impulsivity, and stimulate creativity – all necessary for lasting success in sobriety. In this way, the outdoors can help mitigate the chance of relapse by promoting mindfulness as a healthy coping mechanism for stress, adversity, and other recovery challenges. 

When in recovery from substance abuse and addiction, it is necessary to interact with a variety of resources to not only enable sobriety but also to enable joy, contentment, and satisfaction in recovery. The great outdoors can benefit recovery in this way by providing exciting and adventurous activities that individuals can participate in, both in individual and group settings. Some outdoor activities that an individual might consider to add purpose to their recovery may include:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Biking
  • Rafting
  • Rock climbing
  • Fishing
  • Snow sports
  • Sailing or boating
  • Photography
  • Horseback riding
  • Duneing
  • Canoeing
  • Sightseeing

Remember, these suggestions only scratch the surface of valuable outdoor activities for individuals in addiction recovery. Consider seeking additional opportunities through local treatment programs and recovery groups, as community activities may be scheduled to promote sobriety and recovery. 

Band of Brothers: How the Outdoors Can Benefit Alumni

At Renaissance Ranch, one of the many ways we utilize the great outdoors in recovery is through our Band of Brothers outings. In addition to weekly meetings, we provide quarterly retreats and numerous annual events for alumni to promote connection, contentment, and engagement in sobriety. As stated on our website, “Connection is everything, so we spare no time or expense to keep guys connected, day in and day out with other men who know what it’s like to struggle with alcoholism and addiction.” 

No matter where an individual stands on their journey to sobriety, we have the resources, connections, and support that they need to establish and sustain lasting sobriety. By participating in treatment while taking advantage of the health benefits of the outdoors, lasting sobriety and recovery are more than achievable. 

While it may seem too good to be true, merely stepping outside your door can promote endless benefits for your health, wellness, and recovery. Clean oxygen and sunshine work to improve cardiovascular health and boost energy. Meanwhile, the great outdoors also facilitates mindfulness, allowing you to be present in the moment. Mindfulness directly curbs rumination, improves mood, and decreases the intensity of substance use triggers, working to prevent relapse through recovery. At Renaissance Ranch, we are passionate about incorporating the great outdoors into treatment and recovery. Meanwhile, for alumni, we have the Band of Brothers network to foster alumni outings and events, promoting connection, engagement, and contentment throughout lifelong sobriety. Learn more by calling (801) 308-8898 today.