The Healing Power of Outdoor Therapy in Addiction Treatment
At Villa Kali Ma, an important part of each day is outdoor therapy, exercise, and exposure to nature’s natural bright light. Many studies have shown the powerful effects of outdoor therapy on the health of humans. Outdoor therapy and exercise increase many neurotransmitters in the body and brain that work as natural antidepressants. Exercise causes powerful chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine to be released into the brain that works together to lift the mood while simultaneously reducing pain and anxiety.
Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers and spent most of their lives living outdoors in the bright light, connected to nature and the great outdoors. Living was hard work back then, and they got plenty of exercise hunting and gathering their food. Studies have found a link between depression and lack of exposure to natural light and outdoor therapy and exercise. In our modern lives, we spend most of our days indoors, and we do not have to do much exercise to provide for ourselves. Many who are entering treatment for substance abuse and other co-occurring disorders such as depression have been isolating and spending most of their time indoors and have not been active.
Being outside in the great outdoors takes you away from cares and worries about the past and future and brings you into present moment awareness. Walking on the beach, hearing the waves crashing on the shore, feeling the gentle breeze, and enjoying the bright sunlight soothes the soul and brings in a feeling of gratitude and serenity. Studies have shown that outdoor therapy and exercise reduce stress, decrease cortisol levels in the body, and reduces inflammation. This can have a big impact on our state of mental and physical health.
Also, exposure to bright light increases levels of serotonin in the brain and literally boosts happiness. Outdoor natural light on the skin causes the neurotransmitter serotonin to be synthesized from the amino acid L-Tryptophan, which is then released into the brain, having an uplifting effect and creating a state of wellbeing. Studies have proven that bright natural light can help relieve both seasonal and non-seasonal depression.
Here at Villa Kali Ma, we make sure our clients get plenty of exposure to the great outdoors with beach walks, nature hikes, earthing, and gardening, and the opportunity to relax in the sun by the pool during free time. Clients must participate in daily outdoor therapy and exercise and are encouraged to use our labyrinth for daily outdoor walking meditations.