Take a Hike! Why Is Nature Important to Health?

Take a Hike! Why Is Nature Important to Health?

Nature is our life-support system. According to the World Health Organization's report, “Ecosystems and Human Well-Being," nature is “indispensable to the well-being and health of people.” The first element of a person's needs, according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, begins with one's environment: food, water, and shelter.

Our environment sustains us, both emotionally and physically. Without nature, we would have nothing. As the world becomes increasingly urban, finding options for natural experiences becomes limited. Our ability to live well and eat well is determined by supermarkets and screens. We often opt for quick fixes for our attention, cognitive well-being, and wellness. However, the best fix for what ails us can be found in green (parks, trees, and fields) and blue (water scenes, oceans, and rivers) spaces.

Our health relies on how we feed our minds and bodies. When one considers this, the option of farm-to-table eating becomes more necessary than before.

What Is Farm-to-Table?

Farm-to-table was developed in 1915 by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. He believed the ability of farmers to sell directly to consumers and that individuals growing their own food was more beneficial than over-commercializing the process of getting food to consumers. So, farm-to-table was born and encouraged local produce to be delivered to more localized areas, improving residents' health outcomes. When food is grown and produced locally, it offers a surplus of personal and environmental benefits.

For example, when grown and consumed locally, honey protects consumers from local allergens. Local meat and vegetables grown by individual farmers have greater nutritional content than those grown on large corporate farms. Sustainable and conscientious farming occurs more often at the local level than in larger corporate farms. Also, when using a farm-to-table focus, food is delivered safely with less waste and more focus on consumer needs.

Healthy eating is just one benefit of nature. This nature intervention benefits our physical well-being through food, but there are other benefits to be derived from nature.

How Can Nature Help Our Mental Health?

Research shows that various experiences with nature are associated with improved mental health status. Experiences in nature can have a positive effect specifically on our cognitive well-being, including functions related to:

  • memory
  • attention
  • impulsive inhibition
  • imagination
  • creativity

As a society growing more and more fixated on screen time, we ignore the many benefits that nature offers. There was a lower incidence of mental and physical health problems in years past since people more readily engaged with nature. Also, there was less urban development, meaning more nature was available to the public at large. As opportunities to engage with nature declined, stress increased, and positive well-being decreased.

Mental health is critical to the development of self-esteem, creativity, and one's ability to withstand stressors without resorting to behaviors that can cause long-term problems. Nature provides a means of developing positive well-being, either by actively engaging with it or simply observing it.

How Can Nature Impact Our Physical Health Beyond Food?

While eating a healthy diet from locally grown food can benefit our bodies, another benefit to our bodies comes from experiencing nature. Being in nature is known to:

  • Improve cognitive functioning related to:
    • concentration
    • memory
  • Increase productivity
  • Increase sense of community
  • Improve self-esteem, mood, and relaxation
  • Improve heart health

In an article published in the Health Place journal, researchers explain how everyday contact with nature can improve quality of life and reduce the impact of disease in multiple populations. Overall, there is growing evidence of the positive impact of nature on one's physical well-being. This impact should not be overlooked.

How Can You Best Interact With Nature?

While society has moved away from wide-open spaces, finding a means of experiencing parks, trees, and open fields will improve your mood and other health outcomes. The same can be said for walking along waterways and seeing rivers, oceans, and streams. Any form of nature exposure will help improve your outlook on life and help you develop positive coping skills for dealing with difficult situations.

However, for those that live in urban areas, finding opportunities to explore and experience nature may be difficult. So, viewing photos and videos – and even imagining being in a natural setting – can improve your mental health and reduce the risk of physical problems.

At Enlightened Solutions, we recognize the value of engaging with the natural world. We provide access to Hope Farm and other natural resources, which enable our clients to enjoy local trails and local produce. We believe in the power of nature to improve well-being both physically and emotionally. We believe in holistic care and treating the individual's whole self: body, mind, and spirit.

Experiencing nature is critical to beginning the process of recovery and becoming your best self. At Enlightened Solutions, we recognize nature as an important component in healing from addiction to alcohol and/or other substances or behaviors. One's well-being in recovery is dependent upon a variety of factors, not just overcoming addiction, which is why we focus on helping the whole person and offer holistic therapies. We follow 12-Step programming and encourage our clients to pursue complete recovery in all aspects of their lives. We offer a variety of services beginning from detox to outpatient care and believe in your ability to recover. Our caring, professional staff are ready and able to help you. Reach out to us today and learn how we can support you in finding your best life. Call Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-LIVE and begin the process of recovery. You are worth it. 

Nature as Part of Spiritual Practice

Nature as Part of Spiritual Practice

Our daily lives are often so consumed with the hustle and bustle of our busy routines that we forget a powerful healing tool that surrounds us, that we can access to restore our inner peace. Explore the natural world around you, and you will find it holds infinite healing and guidance. When you open yourself up to receiving animal medicine, for example, you will begin to learn and experience the vast wisdom and symbolism that animals hold.

The sound of the wind in the trees can be immediately soothing and calming. The next time you hear it, pause to meditate on the beautiful sound rather than rushing off to your next destination. Take a moment to register the multiple shades of green in the plant life around you and observe the different brilliant colors of the sky. Take time to watch the sun or moon rise or set. Allow yourself to see the world around you with wonder and excitement, what we often associate with children but which as adults we can implement on a regular basis to add to the joy in our lives.

Being near a body of water brings many people a sense of peace and tranquility. Make the time to sit by a pond or beach, breathing in the helpful negative ions, listening for the crashing or lapping of waves whose continuity can make you feel calm and happy.

Nature reminds us that we are in the flow of life. If we move with it, and allow ourselves to be open to it, we can access the healing power of the universe and the natural world around us. Nature also proves that the natural state of our planet is one of abundance. There is an infinite abundance of leaves on a tree, grains of sand on a beach, drops of water in the ocean. So too are we infinitely abundant, full of the strength and wisdom we need to live happy, healthy lives, full of the manifestation power to heal and to create the lives we want.

Addictions, depression, anxiety, and any other form of mental/emotional health issues, have a way of destabilizing us and making us lose our center. Being in nature can help us to ground ourselves more. You are absorbing the power and strength of the earth any time you consciously connect with it. You reflect the longevity and survival you see in the oldest trees. You reflect the strength and conviction of the wind. Connecting with nature is a wonderful healing tool to add to your spiritual practice.

We listen, and we understand. Many of us have personal experience with recovery. Enlightened Solutions offers therapy, mentoring, and friendship. Call (833) 801-LIVE today.

Nature for Recovery

Nature for Recovery

One might find that being out in nature is that of being with God. Those who struggle with addiction or mental disorders live a life full of fear. When there is fear, there is no faith and this faith can be disguised in many different ways. While in the disease nothing matters as much as staying numb to the world outside. Alcohol and drugs will hinder the addict’s ability to see true beauty in mother nature. While in early recovery it’s essential to spend time outside. There are multiple reasons besides the fresh air. It’s a natural remedy for mild depression as well. Addict who had been isolating will find that they begin to feel more energized and optimistic about the future. The addict who embraces the outdoors will find a sense of calm and ease that only life outside can give forth. Being outside always gives way for activity and that alone will promote a new healthy lifestyle.

Gardening is a way to connect with mother earth. Treatment centers encourage patients to become responsible for the plant's outcome. Learning to take care of and respect another living thing is a step in the right direction towards the addicts growth process. Taking proper care of a garden also gets the addict out of their head. The mind will keep running if you let it, and if you give it that choice it will. Gardening can be therapeutic and meditative. Focusing on something other than the self is the same concept as an addict helping another addict. Self-absorption is what drives addiction. Caring for a garden can give the addict the opportunity to be nurturing and this brings out emotions from deep inside that must come out to move forward in life.

Besides all of the wonderful therapeutic advantages of being outside, it’s a simple, easy way to relax. Nature helps release happy hormones, which means we’re reminded what’s good for ourselves just by taking a hike. Staying in the day is sometimes difficult for addicts to comprehend, but once again, being outside will help with this as well. Addicts need to keep in mind that there is no time like the present, and it’s unnecessary to stress about the future. An addict shouldn’t plan to be sober a year from now, just for the next day, maybe an hour, or minute. It’s a journey and addicts can easily forget what life has to offer while in the disease. Being outside truly brings the addict back to the basics. Life has its simple pleasures and that doesn’t include drinking or using.

Enlightened Solutions believes in grounding an addict’s chaotic lifestyle. Our holistic approach guides our patients to find peace through the simple pleasures in life. Call 833-801-5483 today for information on our partial care programs in New Jersey.

5 Benefits Of Spending Time Around Trees

Trees are gifts to the world which grow out of the ground. Enhance your recovery by spending time in the greenery provided by trees and reap the benefits.

Benefits Of Spending Time Around Trees

  1. Clean Air, Clean Breathing, Clean Living. Trees are natural anti-pollutants. Ever driven up a mountain to the forest and notice the air just smells and feels different? High density tree areas create cleaner air which helps you breathe cleaner air. Studies have found that spending time in nature can inspire you to take more action environmentally and ecologically. All that clean oxygen goes right to your head and your heart.
  2. Tress Live Long And So Can You. Seeing, visiting, and living in green areas increases longevity, some research suggests. Greenery and green spaces help people feel more relaxed, breathe deeper breaths, and reduce their stress. As a result, their immune system enhances in its functions, preventing a wealth of diseases from developing. The more green space the better.
  3. Trees Make You Happy. Not everyone is a nature person. However, it is difficult not to be moved emotionally or spiritually by an especially beautiful tree. Trees have a deep and mysterious energy, like wise sages. Spending time around trees has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety while increasing feelings of wellbeing, safety, and self-esteem, as well as body image.
  4. Trees Make You Sleepy. From the subtle sound of the air moving through the leaves, to the rich oxygen, to the calming presence of their stature, trees help you get better sleep. Studies have found that there is a correlation in patterns of sleep and proximity to trees. See trees all day and sleep soundly.
  5. Trees Are Regenerating. John Muir was no stranger to the healing benefits of trees. In fact, he quite literally wrote the book(s) on it. Muir felt that regular retreats to the forest and the mountains were necessary for optimal health and happiness. Spending a weekend walking among the trees can help you recenter, reboot, and revitalize your recovery.

Enlightened Solutions is located in beautiful Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, surrounded by beautiful trees and lush green landscape. Our residential treatment programs use spiritual twelve step philosophy with proven holistic treatment methods to provide a program for mind, body, and spirit. It’s time to learn how to enjoy life again. For more information, call 833-801-5483.

Nature: It Does a Body (Image) Good

“The soul expands in response to what it sees”  - Anonymous

We see thousands of media advertisements every day. Digitally altered, these images are selling us on an unrealistic idea of perfection. Perfection according to mainstream media comes in different forms: perfect body, perfect partner, perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect relationship, perfect smile, perfect home, perfect car, perfect kitchen, even perfect laundry. In regards to man made items, there is no such thing as perfect. Some philosophers romanticize the beauty of nature as being the only perfect creations in the world. Roses are remarked as being such a perfect creation, they are protected by thorns. Alice Walker once wrote, “in nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.” Nature reminds us of our perfect imperfections. When we gaze at a landscape, it is doubtful we spend our time criticizing each imperfect detail of what we see. Instead, we marvel at the magnificence of nature’s whole- a respect we rarely pay to ourselves.

Spending time in nature is good for the mind, body, and spirit. We find ourselves relaxed when we disconnect from those relentless and rigorous demands of daily life and inundating media. Our blood pressure drops and our brain actually expands. New findings from Body Image journal suggest that spending time in nature helps us see ourselves in that very same broad acceptance. Nature enhances our perception of our own bodies.

Adults who spent more time in nature had higher scores in an evaluation of body appreciation. The evaluation included the level of respect one has for their body as well as their level of willingness to reject cultural norms and unreachable ideals perpetuated by the media. High self-esteem, connectedness, and feelings of “oneness” were also common in the adults with high exposure to nature. Positive body image directly correlated with the higher senses of self-esteem and connection.

Being in nature allows us to focus on what our body is capable of versus what is wrong with it- as dictated by daily media messages. As a result, we develop a greater sense of respect for our bodies, feeling physically empowered.

Enlightened Solutions sees the divine transformation of the spirit, mind, and body, that can take place through recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Our treatment programs for men and women offer a foundation in holistic practices, encouraging complete healing. There is hope. We have a solution. If you or a loved one are suffering, please call 833-801-5483 for more information.