You’ve probably heard that getting some fresh air and spending a little time outdoors is good for your health. But rather than being an old wive’s tale, this advice is solid and backed by scientific research that demonstrates the numerous wellness benefits of nature, from improving fitness and behavior to reducing stress and high blood pressure.
The great outdoors is also good for your mental health. Recently, the healing power of nature has been incorporated into more treatment programs that address issues like anxiety, depression and substance abuse in the form of outdoor therapy, showing great promise in helping people heal more effectively and tune into their inner selves.
At Choice House, outdoor and wilderness therapies have been a core component of what we do since day one. We utilize the positive effects of nature to help men overcome their addiction and mental health challenges, taking advantage of all the outdoor opportunities that Boulder county has to offer.
If you or a loved one is considering treatment for a substance abuse or mental health disorder, learn more about outdoor and wilderness therapies below and why you should consider reconnecting with nature as an integral part of the recovery process.
what exactly is outdoor therapy?
Outdoor therapy is a form of treatment that can help those with addiction or mental health problems achieve lasting recovery. As the name suggests, it takes place outside and combines traditional therapeutic techniques, such as individual and group therapy, with outdoor activities such as hiking, camping or rock wall climbing.
At Choice House, the Rocky Mountains are right in our backyard, so outdoor and wilderness therapies are a regular part of our treatment programming. This provides a fun and dynamic experience that promotes healing from substance abuse, trauma and other issues faced by men that keep them trapped in a cycle of drug dependency.
Outdoor therapy is highly therapeutic and backed by countless studies that show how effective it is for a variety of behavioral and mental health concerns, including:
- Substance abuse
- Anxiety, depression and trauma
- Behavioral challenges
- Process addictions
- Anger problems
- Stress management
benefits of outdoor therapy
Outdoor therapy provides a number of benefits that you won’t get from other treatment programs. Not everyone takes advantage of this powerful modality, but we’ve seen time and again how it can transform the lives of men struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Some of the perks that outdoor and wilderness therapies bring to the recovery process include the following:
While in recovery, you might doubt your ability to stay sober at first and wonder if you’ll ever be able to get through life without drugs or alcohol. It’s possible that addiction has also made you forget what you’re capable of and hurt your confidence, but outdoor and wilderness therapy can help you get it back. Throughout treatment, you’ll take part in a variety of fun and challenging activities that give you a sense of accomplishment and heighten your self-esteem. Gradually, you’ll begin to trust yourself again and feel ready to take on any obstacles you might encounter, rediscovering the potential that addiction stole from you.
Another major benefit of outdoor therapy is improved self-reliance. As your confidence grows and you get out of your comfort zone more, you’ll develop new problem-solving skills and a sense of inner power that lets you take back control of your life. Throughout recovery, your reliance on your own efforts and abilities will continue to increase until you realize on a core level that you are indeed a strong, capable and resilient individual.
At Choice House, we believe in the power of camaraderie among our men. That’s because staying sober is hard to do alone, but becoming part of a recovery community means that someone will always have your back. When things get rough, we can turn to our friends, family members and fellow alumni for support and encouragement.
Our outdoor adventure and wilderness therapies are designed to forge strong bonds. During many activities, we must learn to rely on each other, work together and communicate our needs effectively to accomplish a shared goal. Sharing a new experience in a fun, dynamic environment can also help develop new friendships that will last a lifetime.
Numerous studies have shown that physical activity greatly benefits the recovery process. It helps to reduce stress, balance mood, improve sleep and more, leading to positive impacts on long-term treatment outcomes. It can also reduce relapse by adding structure to your days and promoting a healthier lifestyle that makes it easier to stay sober.
Outdoor therapy provides plenty of opportunities for staying active, whether you’re out hiking in the mountains, snowshoe trekking through the woods, learning how to snowboard or playing a game of disc golf. Throughout our treatment programming, we encourage everyone to discover new, exciting ways to get some exercise and enjoy the great outdoors.
chance to connect with nature
Finally, outdoor and wilderness therapy can help you reconnect with nature and gain a new perspective on life. Spending time outdoors ‘resets’ your brain and makes it easier to live in the moment without judgment or shame. It can also help individuals look inward and process difficult thoughts or feelings that stand in the way of a successful recovery.
preparing for outdoor therapy
Outdoor therapy may not be right for everyone, but we’ve seen the healing power of nature work its magic over the years by vastly improving the mental health and wellness of our men. Even those who don’t consider themselves an outdoors person have benefitted from our program as they learn to adapt to new situations, form lifelong friendships and experience a sense of accomplishment after completing a hike or wilderness excursion.
There’s nothing in particular you need to do to prepare for outdoor therapy. However, some people may want to research treatment centers beforehand to find one that suits their preferences. For example, if you’re an avid skier, you probably don’t want to enroll in a wilderness program located somewhere without slopes or snow.
Choice House in Boulder, Colorado, has a little something for everyone, thanks to an abundance of state parks, reservoirs, and of course, the nearby Rocky Mountains. We incorporate a variety of activities in our treatment programming that can be enjoyed year-round, such as hiking, rock climbing, snowboarding and kayaking.
Another thing to consider is the length of the recovery program. Many rehab centers offer 28 or 30-day stays, but we’ve found that long-term treatment works best by providing more time to develop healthier habits and address the underlying causes of addiction. Our 90-day residential program can help to finally break the cycle of dependence.
If you’re intrigued by outdoor therapy and think it might be a good fit for yourself or a loved one, don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about our recovery solutions and how they can help. Choice House is located in Boulder, Colorado, and dedicated to helping men from all walks of life achieve lasting sobriety with long-term treatment and a unique mix of outdoor and wilderness therapies. You can reach us by calling 303-578-4975 to speak to our admissions team today. You can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.