The Connection Between Nature and Mental Health

“The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Writer and Philosopher

Being outdoors and in nature can be therapeutic for those seeking recovery from addiction. When you get out in nature, you can feel a connection to the world that can impact your mental health and wellness. Getting outside to explore can allow you to renew your perspective and free your mind of preconceptions that may be holding you back. The freedom to explore and experiment is paramount to your recovery, as you will be building a healthy, new life for yourself during treatment.

The Mind-Body Connection

Your mind and body are connected, and one’s health will influence the health of the other. By fostering the mind-body connection in the outdoors, you can exercise while exposing yourself to sunlight and green spaces. Sunlight and fresh hair can have a tremendous impact on your physical well-being, which, in turn, influences your mental health. When you feel good physically, you may, in turn, feel well mentally. Exercise, whether hiking or just taking a mindful stroll, can help you build strength and endurance to develop your mental resilience during recovery.

Freedom to Explore: Being Open-Minded

Being open-minded allows you the freedom to explore the possibilities of a new life for yourself in recovery. When you are outdoors and exploring through the woods, you get back in touch with a more child-like frame of mind. As a child, you likely held fewer preconceptions about the world and felt more open to life’s possibilities. When you grow up, you may have lost a sense of wonder about the world. You may have been exposed to trauma or had to deal with realities in early adulthood that made the world seem more constrained. You may still be feeling restricted about the possibilities in your life. By being free to explore in the open air and open land, you can get back in touch with your child-like sense of freedom. 

Other Benefits on Your Mental Health

Being outdoors and in nature can be therapeutic. Many programs, like Choice House, incorporate outdoor therapy in their treatment. Outdoor therapy can include activities such as:

  • Trekking through the woods on a hike, snowshoe, or cross-country skiing adventure
  • Downhill skiing or snowboarding
  • Rock climbing up a single pitch
  • Fly fishing in a gorgeous river
  • Playing kickball with your peers
  • Tossing a round of disc golf
  • Playing a leisure backyard game, like cornhole
  • Visiting animal sanctuaries, like Song of the Wolf Healing Center in Baily, Colorado
    • The interaction between animals and humans can be healing.
    • Many animals in sanctuaries have been neglected or abused in the past and may need visitors’ empathy to be happy. 

Many of these activities can connect you with your peers in recovery. You can benefit from making strong connections with your peers, as building a support system may be crucial to your success in recovery. By connecting with others, you can create the support you may need during rough patches or maintain your overall wellness. You may struggle to find fun activities with others that do not involve your addictive behaviors. Outdoor recreation can be a healthy, fun social activity to replace time spent drinking alcohol or using other substances.

Your mental health can also benefit from being outdoors by building self-esteem. Many outdoor activities at Choice House are challenging. These activities will test your mental resilience and help you build confidence. You will also benefit from the exercise obtained during these activities; most likely, you will feel better physically and get into better shape. Outdoor therapy can help you reduce stress and anxiety, leading to a healthier mental and physical state.

By getting outdoors, you can add a new healthy coping skill to your repertoire. You can get outside for a walk at a park or call a friend to play a game together. When you get out in nature, you can begin to feel better and build a healthy recovery lifestyle. During your treatment, you will learn new ways of having fun and ways to deal with stress. By getting outside to explore the wilderness, you can replenish your mind and reconnect to your inner self. Whether you are interested in adventurous activities or daily exercise, you can benefit from getting out in nature during your recovery.


Choice House believes that the great outdoors can be beneficial and therapeutic for those in recovery from addiction. We have an extensive list of activities and places to explore while you are in treatment. Getting out in nature can significantly impact your mental health in positive ways. You can lower your levels of stress and anxiety by getting fresh air and exercise. Challenging activities, like long hikes or snow-shoeing, can help you build self-esteem and confidence as you learn what you are capable of accomplishing. Learning new skills, like disc golf or skiing, can also help you develop self-esteem as you find a new hobby for occupying your time in recovery. If you or a loved one are looking for a treatment program that takes a progressive approach with outdoor therapies, Choice House might be right for you. We offer treatment for men in recovery from addiction and are here to help you find your power. Call us today at (720) 577-4422 for more about our program!

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