The Nature Prescription

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The nature prescription changes lives. It is an intervention growing in popularity for many reasons. Time in nature boosts our well-being both mentally and physically. When we’re in the outdoors, we are more present in our environment. Also, we tend to be unplugged from technology, which studies show is vital for mental health. Nature is a great healer. It’s what we experience when we enjoy activities outside. Hence, the outdoors is not just aesthetically pleasing or entertaining, it is deeply healing for humans.

Studies reveal what we’ve long known—that regular, consistent time spent in nature is powerful for our well-being. And this goes far beyond simply uplifting our mood. Also, the outdoors can directly impact physical health and balance stress levels, ameliorate anxiety, and boost our immune system. Consequently, at a time when we’re spending more time inside than ever before, adventures in nature are curative and necessary.

“The fact that doctors are prescribing time outside is important. Nature is our essence and our essence is to thrive,” says Tim Walsh, founder of Adventure Recovery. The impact of our time in nature permeates all levels of our well-being.

Why the Nature Prescription

When we were children, many of us would stay out until dark. We’d build forts, walk in the woods, play near streams. The outdoors was simply part of our day-to-day experience. But we’ve disconnected from this in today’s technology saturated culture. Nature Deficit Disorder is real and impacting all of us, especially children who are inundated with screens each day. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, we spend approximately 87 percent of our time in enclosed spaces or indoors. We need to get outside.

Nature brings us into immediate connection with our environment. The seasons, the rhythms of the day, and the balance of being part of a broader ecosystem heightens our awareness. In addition, we’re breathing fresh air, soaking in vitamin D, and moving our bodies. This feels good, naturally.

The nature prescription benefits everyone. And it especially helps those of us in recovery from addiction. In addition, moving our bodies through exercise outside creates a strong sense of self, boosting our self-esteem and happiness. Science substantiates this now more than ever. Furthermore, time in nature or forest bathing benefits our mental health directly. Hence, addictive tendencies generated by isolation come into balance.

How to Use the Nature Prescription

  1. Get outside. It’s as simple as opening the door. Get out there! You can go for a walk, bike ride, swim, garden, or just sit near a tree. It’s all there for you.

  2. Learn a new outdoor skill. Ever wanted to learn how to rock climb? Mountain bike? Surf? Whitewater paddle? The instruction and knowledge is available to all of us. And the more we learn about how to be in nature, the more we can enjoy it. Beginner’s mind allows us to be willing. That’s all it takes, willingness.

  3. Set outdoor goals. When we explore new things, we build our resilience. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and set new goals. Learning means letting go of what we believe we already know. We are willing to listen and evolve. The challenge can simply mean getting outside for a minimum amount of time each day. Maybe it’s a walk at work or a hike at the end of the day? Your nature prescription should include activities outdoors that you love. Perhaps it’s a swim at your local beach. Commit to a goal and notice how you feel after a week or two.

  4. You got this. It can be our tendency to be hard on ourselves. It’s one thing if you feel you’re challenging yourself and striving. But, if you’re just browbeating yourself, you gotta stop. Time in nature teaches us to be present for ourselves and our surroundings, with awareness and compassion. We build skills and efficacy through this deeper knowing. Practice brings ability. Stick with it and know you got this.

If you or someone you love is in need of a nature prescription, we are here to help. You are not alone. Contact us! You deserve to live a healthy life beyond your wildest dreams. What we’ve learned, through years of experience, is that the best way to truly thrive is through nature. It’s one thing to be outside a couple of hours a week; it’s another to get out every day, doing what you love. Off that couch!

Image courtesy of unsplash