If people enter recovery from addiction it is not a good idea for them to spend too much time indoors. This is because such behavior can lead to mental and physical health problems. In order to get the most out of their recovery the individual will need to make time for nature. This does not have to involve making major changes to their lifestyle – even 20 minutes outside each day can make a difference. Once people get into the habit of being outdoors they will start to enjoy it. There is just something so wonderful about being sober and being in the middle of nature.
There are some definite benefits to spending time outdoors in recovery including:
* Spending time outdoors leads to improvements in mental health. It may even lead to an improvement of symptoms for certain conditions such as mild depression.
* Going out into the fresh air energizes people, and this means that they can achieve more during the rest of the day.
* It improves concentration and mental alertness. If people feel tired just going for a walk outside is usually enough to give them a boost.
* Spending time in nature can even improve wound healing. This is why many hospitals will allow plants on the wards and in private rooms.
* It is suggested that spending more time outside means that people are better able to deal with stress. This is important for people who in recovery because excessive stress may prompt them to look for comfort with alcohol or drugs.
* It helps people sleep better at night. This is particularly true for people who go for a walk in the evenings.
* Those people who spend more time outside will tend to be healthier. This is because being outdoors encourages activity – even if it is just walking around or gardening.
* Going outside is a good way to meet new people. This is important for people in early recovery who have had to let go of their drinking and drugging friends.
There are dangers associated with spending too much time indoors include:
* Boredom is a common relapse trigger for people in recovery. Those who spend too much time indoors are more likely to suffer from boredom.
* Lack of sunlight on the skin can lead to vitamin D – this vitamin can be obtained in food but many people rely on the sun for this (especially vegetarians). Vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
* People who spent too much time inside tend to sit down most of the time. Excessive sitting is bad for humans and may even lead to an early death.
* Those who spend all of their times will tend to burn fewer calories than those who live a more active lifestyle with plenty of time outdoors.
* Staying indoors all the time is often a sign of depression. It may even trigger the symptoms of depression in the first place.
* If people get sober and spend all their time indoors it can begin to feel like they are serving a prison sentence. They are just biding their time until they will be able to return to substance abuse.
* It can lead to insomnia. This is particularly true for people who spend too much time in their bedroom – they mentally associate being in bed with being awake.
* Spending too much time alone at home can lead to loneliness. This is another of the more common relapse triggers.
* It can lead to a type of mental fog that makes concentration difficult. Even though the individual is sitting around all the time they still feel tired.
Sitting down too much can kill people – if people sit down for more than 6 hours per day it makes them 40% likelier to die within the next 15 years. This might sound like an outrageous claim, but it really is the truth. This is because humans have not been designed to spend their day in this position, and those who sit excessively do suffer from negative health consequences. The dangers of sitting include:
* Sitting down too much leads to obesity. This is because such individuals will not be burning as many calories.
* Those individuals who sit excessively will increase their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
* It increases the risk of developing diabetes. This is because insulin effectiveness drops when people are sitting down.
* Sitting down has been shown to turn off the fat absorbing enzyme known as lipase.
In order for people to enjoy the benefits of nature it is not necessary for them to make huge changes to their life. The individual can spend more time outdoors by:
* Taking up gardening.
* If they wish to read they can do this in the park or even on their patio.
* Spending work lunch breaks outside.
* Going for a walk in the evenings – even twenty minutes will make a noticeable difference.
* If people live near their employment they may decide to walk or cycle into work.
* Tai chi in the park first thing in the morning is a wonderful way to start the day. Most parks in urban areas will have at least a few Tai Chi practitioners, and they usually don’t mind other people joining in.
* Take up outdoor photography.
* Jogging or running is an excellent way to spend time outdoors and get fit at the same time.
* Join a walking club.
* Take a dog for a walk.
* Join an outdoor sports team.
* Take up golf.
* Find a secluded area outdoors and do some meditation. If people are embarrassed about being seen they do not have to sit in a cross legged position.
* Arrange to meet friends in the park.