Hiking Therapy: Benefits of Activities in Recovery

hiking therapy

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During addiction treatment at many rehab centers, day-to-day life can become monotonous, causing it to become easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. Rehab patients often become sheltered and get put into a daily routine of therapy and meetings. Every week seems the same, with little, if anything, to look forward to. While it may seem beneficial to hammer in the “sobriety” aspect of recovery, a key portion of the recovery equation – how to establish day-to-day happiness and wellness while sober – is often overlooked. That’s where activities like hiking therapy come in.

What is Hiking Therapy?

man with addiction on a hiking therapy

Hiking itself is the activity of walking in nature – often on trails and footpaths and up and down hills and mountains. Hiking therapy is the practice of using the activity of hiking to achieve physical and mental health and wellness.

One key way in which hiking can act as a therapeutic tool that helps people achieve physical and mental health and wellness is by making them enter a meditative state that eases their stress and anxiety. Many outdoor activities can help ease people’s stress and anxiety. But, here at our Colorado men’s addiction treatment center, hiking therapy is just one of how we help our residents overcome addiction and mental health challenges.

Why Being Outdoors is Good for People in Recovery

Since achieving sobriety is stressful and difficult, and outdoor activities help ease people’s stress and anxiety, it shouldn’t be surprising that taking part in outdoor activities is beneficial to people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. There are many ways that outdoor activities can benefit individuals in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

It Creates a Greater Sense of Spirituality, Self-Worth, and Meaning

Outdoor activities give people the opportunity to become one with the world around them and ultimately the higher powers that created this world. Becoming more in tune with nature and whatever higher power one believes is extremely beneficial to people in recovery. This is because it helps give life a greater meaning and purpose than just pleasing oneself. In turn, outdoor activities can help motivate people in recovery to stay sober even when they are suffering or faced with addiction triggers.

Being one with nature and the higher powers that created it also helps people in recovery feel a sense of worth that isn’t conditional on earthly things and opinions. Such a feeling can help individuals in recovery forgive themselves for the transgressions that they made because of their past substance abuse. Feeling a sense of self-worth that’s connected to a higher power can also motivate people to create new lives for themselves through sobriety, just as wildlife in nature can grow again after being cut or pruned.

It Makes People More Likely to Exercise and Improve Their Physical and Mental Health

Because being outdoors often means exercising and taking part in adventurous activities, outdoor activities can improve one’s physical health. By being more physically healthy, individuals in recovery from substance addiction feel more well.

Exercising helps cause the human body to release “feel-good” hormones called endorphins. As feel-good hormones, endorphins help boost people’s moods. This, in turn, helps improve people’s mental health. The combined improvement of one’s physical and mental health that being outdoors can cause makes fighting off the urge to abuse substances that much easier.

The Benefits of Hiking Therapy When in Recovery from Drug and Alcohol Addiction

While all outdoor activities are beneficial to people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, there are specific benefits to the outdoor activity of hiking. Hiking can indeed act as a form of therapy in recovery. Some of the main benefits of hiking therapy when in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction are listed and described below.

1. Helps Build Mental Strength and Fortitude

One benefit of hiking therapy is that it helps build people’s mental strength and fortitude. This is because hiking often forces people to go on long and exhausting walks up and down inclines. Thus, to complete the long and exhausting walks that hiking often requires, people have to continuously tell themselves to not give up in their minds.

By forcing themselves to continue hiking past any pain or exhaustion that they may feel while completing a hike, individuals can build on their mental strength and resiliency.

This, in turn, can help make it easier to be resilient while in and out of rehab. Hiking can also make it easier to be mentally strong when it comes to resisting the urge to abuse substances again when faced with addiction triggers.

2. Increases Self-Awareness and Reflection

Another benefit of hiking therapy is that it increases self-awareness and reflection. It does this by allowing hikers to be outside with nothing else but nature. In moments where people hike outside and alone in nature, they can self-reflect on their recovery journeys thus far and where they hope for their recovery journeys to be in the future.

3. Promotes Independence and Self-Reliance

To begin hiking, one has to learn the skills of navigating oneself while walking through nature. One also has to learn how to take care of oneself with a first aid kit in case of an emergency.

Even when hiking in a group, because each person in the group is only in his or her own body, the responsibility of making sure that each person doesn’t step somewhere dangerous or hurt himself due to recklessness is solely on that person. Thus, in many ways, hiking therapy promotes independence and self-reliance.

4. Builds Community

People can hike by themselves, in pairs, or groups. When hiking in pairs and groups, people who are new to recovery can make friends and build support groups. Individuals in recovery from substance addiction can lean on these friends and support groups when faced with addiction triggers.

Receive Hiking Therapy at Jaywalker

As a men’s drug rehab center located in one of the best states for hikes and outdoor activities, Jaywalker is the perfect place for men to not only receive hiking therapy for addiction treatment but all forms of substance addiction and co-occurring mental health treatment.

Jaywalker is firmly rooted in the 12 steps. Thus, it strongly values the principles of integrity, personal accountability, and service. As a recovery center that’s rooted in the 12 steps, Jaywalker also values holistic treatment and the spiritual benefits that come with it. Thus, therapeutic outdoor activities in nature such as hiking therapy are right up our alley.

To learn more about Jaywalker and our addiction and mental health treatment programs, therapies, and services that it offers, contact us today. We are ready to help you overcome substance abuse and live a life of freedom and well-being. Reach out to our team to begin your journey to addiction and mental health recovery.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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