Being involved in providing addiction recovery since 2002, we at Florida Center For Recovery know it is important to incorporate holistic and recreational activities into a discharge planning to keep those on the path to recovery motivated. Although for many people, this thought conjures up concerns regarding cost, convenience, and effectiveness of such activities, holistic and recreational activities do not necessarily mean acupuncture sessions, art or yoga classes. Yes, acupuncture, art classes, picking up yoga all are activities that if one is into them are very helpful, but there are other activities that are perhaps more in line with many of our normal daily activities that are equally helpful. For example, taking advantage of nature and going on a nature walk as therapy can be an excellent daily activity that is cost-effective, convenient and scientifically proven to be effective. This activity has even been given a name by psychologists and it’s called Ecotherapy. Ecotherapy is the treatment that uses contact with nature to self-soothe and process emotions. If you’ve ever taken a stroll along a moonlit beach or hiked through quiet woods, you probably already understand the calming effect that the natural world can have.
Researchers at the University of Essex sought to quantify this – they found that, in a group of people with depression, 90% felt a higher level of self-esteem after walking through a park. Upon conducting additional studies, they found that 94% of those with mental illness reported that contact with nature improved their mood.
A Stanford study helmed by Dr. Gregory Bratman split volunteers into two separate groups. Half of them walked along a busy road, while the others took a scenic stroll with beautiful mountain views. The nature walk decreased anxiety, negative feelings, and rumination, and even boosted performance on cognitive tests. After conducting MRIs and blood flow measurements to various brain areas, the results revealed that the nature walkers had reduced activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is primarily associated with rumination – the process of continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which tend to be sad or dark – an issue common to those with anxiety and depression.
Why Does Nature Improve Your Mood?
One of the primary effects of ecotherapy, whether walking through a neighborhood park or taking a vacation close to nature, is the calming sensation. Studies show that exposure to nature, no matter how brief, can help to improve cognitive function and protect the brain against stress. So naturally staying away from stressors and taking the time to unplug can be incredibly beneficial to everyone especially those in recovery.
There is a wide body of research suggesting that all different forms of natural stimuli can have a positive impact on one’s mental health. Sweeping views, the sounds of water running down a creek, chirping birds, the smell of fresh flowers and vegetation, all have proven to lower stress levels and promote wellness. Something as simple as sitting by the window or looking at photographs of nature can improve mood and life satisfaction.
It is important to mention that ecotherapy should be used on a complimentary basis – it should not replace core aspects of an addiction treatment plan, such as attending AA and NA meetings or participating in aftercare rehab programs.
Florida Ecotherapy: Nature Therapy Options
For those residing in Florida, the options for eco-focused excursions are nearly endless. From our natural springs to state parks and beaches to the east and the west – Florida is surrounded by natural beauty. There are 175 state parks in Florida and 9 state trails that encompass more than 800,000 acres, providing endless recreational opportunities.
Thrive in Sobriety
With almost two decades in providing addiction and mental health treatment, Florida Center for Recovery is one of the largest addiction treatment providers in Central Florida offering all-inclusive inpatient medical detox. Our proven, individualized approach ensures that each person who walks through our doors is on the right path for lasting recovery.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance addiction and would like to explore treatment options, feel free to give us a call at (800) 851-3291. Florida Center for Recovery (FCR) offers addiction treatment with specialized therapies for individuals 18 and older through private inpatient rehab services. Our addiction treatment programs offer variable lengths of stay, which allows each client to anchor recovery behaviors needed for lasting change.
For more information about our rehab programs, you may also take a look at our online booklet for a better insight into our diverse comprehensive therapies.
Florida Center for Recovery
Helping Individuals Struggling with Substance Addiction Recover Since 2002.
Dr. Balta is the Medical Director at FCR for more than 10 years. Dr. Balta is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Certified Psychoanalyst. As well, as having Psychiatric Training at The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program In New York City and Psychoanalytic Training at The William Alanson White Institute in New York City. While working in New York City, gained funding Grants for the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders from SAMHSA , HRSA and the City of New York.