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Finding Ourselves in Nature

Staying holed up inside for long periods can lead to some very unhealthy habits. You are more likely to start avoiding people, developing an anti-social pattern of behavior. Pushing yourself to go outside can help you build a lot of social skills and help you construct a reliable support system that you can depend on. But it is so much more than just meeting and talking with people – going outside is the best way to get in touch with nature.

You don’t even need to be with anyone. There have been many studies proving that if you are struggling with something or feeling low, the best medicine can be to go outside and into nature. While there are benefits to taking a walk in your neighborhood, there is something remarkable about going into nature and away from civilization. Hiking is a popular pastime for many reasons.

For one thing, getting into nature is calming, which means that it can be a perfect medicine for anyone who is dealing with mental illness or substance abuse. We have known these effects for a while, with a study coming out in 2015, proving that nature can do a lot to help you overcome whatever may be ailing you at the moment. The study confirmed the idea that nature really is a safe place and something that deserves to be respected and preserved.

Studies Show The Benefits of the Natural World

The study was designed to compare a group of people who went for walks out in nature with a group of people who went for walks in a more urban environment. The two groups would go for 90-minute walks, one in an open, wooded area and the other in a traffic-clustered, busy area.

Afterward, the researchers measured heart and respiratory rates, performed brain scans to see any differences in activity, and had the participants take part in questionnaires. While the researchers found very little difference in physiological conditions, there were noticeable differences in brain activity.

Neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex decreased among the participants who went for a walk in nature, as opposed to those who went for a walk in the city. These findings point to the impact that nature can have on a person’s mental health. They also indicate that the increase in urbanization is related to an increase in mental illness.

The Problems with Modernity

More than half of the world’s population lives in an urban setting, which means that a majority of our population is poised to develop some kind of mental illness. The risk of having anxiety from living within an urban area is significantly higher, as well as the risk of developing a mood disorder. People who are born and raised within a city environment are more likely to develop severe conditions, like schizophrenia.

This means that urban planners and builders have to keep this kind of connection in mind when considering expanding or moving into natural areas. While it is essential to give people access to places to live, it is also vital for our mental health to have access to nature, particularly when we are facing something tough. It can be a safe haven for us to escape to when life is getting to be too much for us.

It is another reason why people are so defensive of our natural areas; it isn’t just about sticking up for other species of animals, plants, and more – although that is very important – it is also about preserving a place that we find comforting. We seek the comfort of nature to help us feel level and human again.

Use Nature as a Balm

So the next time you are struggling with something and finding yourself wanting to stay inside, consider going for a hike. It is something that you can do alone, and won’t have to worry about socializing with other people. It can be the perfect compromise so that you aren’t keeping yourself cut off from the world.

Like we said, doing so will cause some incredibly unhealthy habits to form, and that is something you need to avoid. All you have to do is a little research to find a place you can go to in your area. You don’t have to go far, necessarily, just anywhere where you can feel in touch with nature.

Once you do, you have found a place of safety for you, a sanctuary. That is something incredibly valuable for someone who is struggling. So don’t worry about finding the next appointment, medicine, or doctor; sometimes, the best thing for you is just walking out the door.

Nature is an exciting place to calm our minds and soothe our souls. Without a solid foundation for recovery, however, we’ll hardly be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of Mother Nature. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find a sober living community ready to provide you with the tools you’ll need on the journey to sobriety. If you’re ready to get sober, it’s time to lean on the experience and strength of others who have come before you. Sobriety is not as uncharted as it may seem. Through a holistic recovery program, you can heal spiritually, mentally, and physically – you just need the time to do so. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find the community you’re looking for and the experienced guidance you need. Give us a call at (602) 466-9880. Getting sober isn’t easy, but it can be an exciting period of your life, filled with transformational experiences and incredible growth.

Gaining Perspective Through Outdoor Exploration

“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”
-Ansel Adams

People in recovery from addiction, trauma, and mental illness often hear about gaining perspective, but what does that mean? More importantly, what steps can one take to gain perspective?

When using outdoor exploration as a form of therapy, the steps to gain perspective are quite simple: get out into nature and see the true beauty the world has to offer. The experience of wilderness therapy and outdoor exploration can be transformative.

Embarking on an outdoor trek requires mental courage similar to that necessary for recovery. Both necessitate preparation, planning, endurance, sacrifice, strength, and resilience. Outdoor exploration also allows us to exist simply and purely, which helps us get back in touch with ourselves in our natural states.

Our Experiences are a Form of Exploration

American photographer and wilderness advocate, Ansel Adams, captured the American landscape’s raw beauty in his famous black and white photos. Wilderness photographers capture the perspective of their experiences through the pictures they produce. However, we do not see the work put into gaining such a view.

We do not see the hours spent learning to use photography equipment or the miles of hiking and time spent waiting for the light to be “just right.” All we see is the final product of their explorations and the collective hours of their expertise.

The photograph represents the result of a perspective gained –or more accurately—earned. Most of our recovery journey is private, and most others will not see the hard work that it takes. However, they will see the result of our hard work and commitment.

When you begin your recovery journey, ask yourself this: “How do I want to see myself at the end of this journey?” Meditate on questions like “Who do I hope to become through time and dedication to my recovery?”

The Recovery Journey and Wilderness Exploration

The recovery journey is much like setting out on an exploration of the wilderness. First, you plan the trip. Where are you going? How will you get there? Are you ready to start now, or do you need more knowledge first? Recovery is a personal experience. Only you can determine your readiness.

Everyone begins with a different level of preparedness and a different set of strengths. What skills, knowledge, and characteristics do you already possess? What do you need to know before setting off into the unknown challenges of recovery? Much like a wilderness explorer, you will face unanticipated obstacles, so be prepared for the journey!

Next, we determine what we need and what we can carry throughout the process. In your recovery journey, what will you need to support you? What will have to be left behind? As you go through the process, ask yourself, “Did I bring something that is beginning to weigh me down?”

Much like a wilderness explorer, we often overpack or under-pack on our first journey. These oversights and mistakes contribute to obtaining an improved perspective. What negative thoughts are weighing you down? What support do you need to make it through to the end? Then, we get out there!

We have determined our readiness, packed up our bags, and planned our destination, so let’s go! This is where you will learn the most – by getting out and doing something. In recovery, this could mean a few different things, like going to therapy, attending a group session, starting medications, or going to a rehabilitation center.

This could also be the act of literally getting out into the wilderness. Like an explorer, you will face challenges and unforeseen obstacles on your journey to recovery. You will have to learn to be flexible, to re-evaluate, and make adjustments as you go.

Chances are that you may even get lost and need to ask for additional help or support! When setting out on an outdoor adventure, an explorer learns about their resiliency, their strengths, and what they truly need to achieve their objectives. Be ready and willing to learn!

Reflection After the Journey

Once your exploration of the outdoors has been completed, you enter the final step: reflection. What did you learn? What worked for you and what didn’t? Did you “overpack” or “under-pack”? Are you now more ready for future challenges in your life due to the knowledge you have gained?

What perspective have you earned from this process? How do you see yourself now that you have explored the great outdoors and proved to yourself that you can climb a mountain or live with less baggage? Reflect on your experiences by journaling or reviewing pictures you may have taken on your journey and be proud of your accomplishments!

Any explorer worth their salt knows they can’t set off into the wilderness on their own; you need companionship, guidance, and a roadmap. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find a sober living community ready to provide you with the tools you’ll need on the journey to sobriety. If you’re ready to get sober, it’s time to lean on the experience and strength of others who have come before you. Sobriety is not as uncharted as it may seem. Through a holistic recovery program, you can heal spiritually, mentally, and physically – you just need the time to do so. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find the community you’re looking for and the experienced guidance you need. Give us a call at (602) 466-9880. Getting sober isn’t easy, but it can be an exciting period of your life, filled with transformational experiences and incredible growth.