Loving (Without Enabling) An Addict

Loving (Without Enabling) An Addict | Transcend Texas

This is a post that is relevant to recovering addicts looking to start dating, people who have fallen in love with recovering addicts and need advice, and steady relationships between addicts or an addict and a non-addict looking to learn more on how to help each other.

Addiction can take a toll on a person – and when you love that person, it will take a toll on you as well. That, right off the bat, is what everyone needs to know when getting into a relationship with an addict: there’s baggage involved.

But when you really get down to it, that’s true for most relationships. How often have you fallen in love with someone who was emotionally distant, or unavailable? Carried deep secrets and childhood traumas? Suffered from depressive symptoms? Happened to be in-love with someone else?

The list of things that could possibly go wrong in relationships that absolutely have nothing to do with addiction is a very extensive list indeed – so don’t presume that being in love with an addict will automatically make the relationship discouraging, or unrewarding. Loving a recovering addict may very well be the best decision you’ll ever make for your happiness.

But just like every other relationship, it comes with a heavy burden and a significant risk – and since we’re involving addiction here, there’s a little bit of work cut out for the both of you.

Understand the Possibilities

It may be strange to hear this, but there’s a silver lining – an actual shred of positivity – exclusively available to someone dating a recovering addict.

Someone who has achieved sobriety for long periods of time is most definitely disciplined, strong-willed and capable of doing whatever it is they truly want to do. If you want a leader in a relationship, someone who does what they say they will, then a very promising characteristic is the ability to overcome addiction.

However, while that’s something to keep in mind, you also have to realize that being with a recovering addict means that if the relationship ends, you may inadvertently cause a relapse, and be the reason for the failed sobriety of someone working so very hard to get it – something not many can do without the resulting guilt trip.

There are pros and cons to everything – falling in love has the con of falling out of love. When a person’s sobriety feels like it might be at stake, that’s something you have to take into account before you go on this adventure.

Help Replace the Addiction, Don’t Become It

Being with someone can be an amazing opportunity to learn new things, and grow as a person – both through sharing past experiences and pooling together years of life knowledge, but also through making new experiences together and trying out different things to discover a joint passion.

Sometimes, addiction is best beat by replacing it altogether with passion – sports, art, or some other form of release or coping can be a great way to get rid of the mental addiction many drugs leave after they’ve completely gone from your system.

However, be sure not to let that newfound passion be you. Don’t become the new object of fixation for your loved one – make sure that everything you do together can be continued alone, to further individual growth. You are trying to grow together, but the consequences of becoming a new obsession for a recovering addict are far too serious to ignore.

Never Let It Be an Excuse

Addiction recovery is hard business. There’s no denying that alone or even with others, dealing with long-term sobriety isn’t a walk in the park. But you must never let that become an excuse for any inequality or abuse of power between you and your new partner.

Never simply chalk up abusive behavior to crankiness or addiction. Be sure to be very, very clear, that you will not tolerate a single insult or any form of abuse in the relationship – one sign, and you’re gone.

The consequences of utilizing addiction as an excuse for inexcusable behavior in a relationship have to be severe if you want to make things work.

Thrive Together

Being in a relationship with an addict can sometimes make things a little one-sided – as though everything is about making them better. Turn the tables around, and focus instead on the “we” – grow better together.

Yes, make sure to do things together that can be continued alone, but do them together nonetheless – and learn together. Do things they want to do, and do things you want to do. Never accept inequality in the relationship.

When It’s Time to Let Go

No one wants to talk about breakups while a relationship is blooming and blossoming, and that’s entirely understandable. Breakups are sad. They’re depressing. They cut out the joy in life and love and make us cynical and hard in the heart. They contradict every idea of romance.

But they’re a reality most people must face at some point or another. Only the rarest among us have the strange privilege of falling in love once, and never falling out of it. For the rest of us mere mortals, heartbreak is part of being human.

Only when you’re in a relationship where you’re helping someone battle their addiction, the prospect of ending the relationship on anything less than a stellar note can be a bit daunting, because of the fear that all you’ve done together will be undone by the pain of heartbreak, perhaps even leading to a horrifying relapse.

In some ways, it’s similar to a situation wherein you may have fallen in love with someone in a deep depression, and leaving them may cause them to spiral back down.

We are going to tell you that the sensible thing to do is leave as soon as possible. The longer you draw out a relationship that both you know won’t work, the more painful the parting will be – and the longer it’ll take for someone to actually recover and find themselves. If you tear off the band aid now, and right away, then yes – there’s a possibility of relapse due to heartbreak – but after that, you’ll have done the relationship a favor by giving your ex the fastest opportunity to work their way toward sobriety.

Ultimately, the best reason to leave is that the relationship is far too taxing on you – to the point that it’s affecting your ability to think, focus and function due to worries, negativity, and in the worst cases, a fear of your new partner and their unpredictable or angry nature.

Addiction recovery isn’t a kind or flowery process. It can induce a lot of rage and release deep-seated issues, and for someone who isn’t used to prolonged sobriety, it can be a little painful as well. We understand the need to look out for someone you’ve fallen in love with, but don’t do so at the cost of your own sanity and health.

6 Daily Meditation Routines For Clearer Thinking

6 Daily Meditation Routines For Clearer Thinking | Transcend Texas

Addiction recovery is difficult; this is part of the reason why some people never seem to really make it through recovery in the first place. Deciding to quit and improve your life instead requires some serious dedication and patience. It’s also immensely brave, extremely commendable, and one of the very best decisions you can make for yourself if you’re struggling with addiction. Even though the journey may be difficult, you don’t need to walk it alone; there’s help available when you’re ready.

Emotions and feelings often run high in both active and post-acute withdrawal. You’re dealing with so much at once that feeling a bit overwhelmed is very normal. When it’s difficult to think clearly, or you’re struggling with “brain fog,” clear your mind and find your center with these seven daily meditation routines.

Morning Affirmations + Meditation

Thomas Szasz once said, “Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.” If you struggle the most each morning when you arise, remind yourself that it’s okay to take 30 minutes to an hour to center yourself and fully wake up. Be gentle and loving towards yourself even if it seems like you’re headed for a challenging day.

Morning affirmations (preferably recited in a nice, warm patch of sunlight) encourage you to focus on the positive before you start your day. When you first wake up, get out of bed, grab a drink, splash some water on your face, and find somewhere quiet and comfortable to sit.

Begin by sitting upright in a comfortable position. Breathe in to the count of three, hold for three, then release to the count of three. If this feels too short or long for you, free to adjust the count to whatever suits you best.

As you focus on your breath, gently begin stretching each part of your body; first your neck, then your shoulders, then your arms. As you stretch each part, say out loud one positive affirmation about yourself. This could include any of the following:

  • I am strong.
  • I am beautiful.
  • I am capable.
  • I am recovering.
  • I am compassionate.
  • I help others.
  • I deserve love.
  • Many people love me.
  • I am appreciated.
  • I appreciate my body.

Although these might seem a bit cheesy at first, affirmations and meditation are a powerful combination. They gently guide the body in the direction of positivity without making you feel forced. Spend about 15 to 30 minutes doing this routine, then follow it up with a shower and get started with your day.

Reading + Contemplating

If you’re spiritually minded (regardless of specific religion), be sure to make time out of each day to focus on your faith or belief system. Look for books that focus on healing and recovery while highlighting important spiritual lessons at the same time; dedicate 15 minutes or more to reading and contemplating what you’ve learned along the way.

Whenever possible, aim for positive, comforting reads over stressful, confrontational books. Pema Chodron’s “When Things Fall Apart,” for example, will have a much different impact on the stressed-out Buddhist’s mind, than, say, a book about death and its meaning.

Follow your reading session with a short sitting meditation or yoga. While you practice, focus on what you’ve learned and allow your mind time to mull it over as you stretch. Choose books that are particularly interesting and uplifting to you and you’ll find that it recenters your focus and helps you to think more clearly, too.

Writing + Visualizing

Guided visualization is immensely powerful. Research shows that those who visualize their success very often feel more confident and capable when it comes time for the actual event. Likewise, writing or journaling your problems can help you to get them out on paper instead of hyper-focusing or getting stuck in a loop of negative talk in your mind. Combining these two approaches boosts the benefits you experience from either one.

Start by taking 20 minutes out of your day to sit down and write out a short story; the main character is you. Write yourself into a scenario you’d normally struggle with, and finish the story with your ultimate success. Feel free to get as creative or bland as you want.

Then, read the story back to yourself and meditate on it for 10 minutes or more. Go over the story multiple times, visualizing your success in your mind as you focus on your breath.

This routine works best just before bed; anecdotal evidence shows that writing down a problem or visualizing it before you sleep can give your mind time to come up with practical solutions. This is where the term, “sleep on it” comes from.

Dance + Gentle Yoga

In places like New York, a new ecstatic dance movement that combines dancing with affirmations and movement is capitalizing on this concept. Practitioners believe that allowing yourself to move to music with abandon is not only good for the body, but is also excellent for relieving tension and clearing the mind. At its heart, dancing takes us back to our tribal history and makes us feel invigorated, healthy, and happy.

But wait; there’s more! There’s another reason why so many people love to dance; doing so can be entrancing and almost meditative, especially when it comes to interpretive and contemporary dance styles. It seems to allow us to process our thoughts and feelings in the same way as art or crafting.

To integrate this into your daily life, carefully watch yourself for signs of boredom, stress, and anxiety. When you’re feeling sluggish or restricted, find a private spot, pop in your favorite music, and dance your heart out while gently stretching your arms, legs, back, and torso. Allow yourself to become fully immersed in the music.

BONUS: dancing boosts endorphins, something that many recovering addicts struggle within the first one to two years of sobriety.

Walking Meditation + Nature

For centuries, Buddhist monks have practiced walking meditation in temples all over the world. As the name suggests, its only difference from standard sitting meditation is that the walker focuses not on the breath, but on the actual process of walking and everything it entails.

To practice walking meditation, start walking. As you take each step, you should focus on how the heel feels as it connects the ground, how the pressure spreads around the foot, and how you subconsciously pick up your other leg to move it forward again. Paying attention to these tiny little movements forces the brain to slow down and relax, improving clarity and cognition.

This activity works even better if you engage it in a peaceful, natural environment. Connecting with the natural world has its own benefits, so don’t be afraid to dive into a local park or go for a hike at the same time. If you do, try to reflect on and appreciate the beauty around you and your role within it.

Binaural Sounds + Sleep

Getting enough sleep is such a crucial part of recovery that it cannot be understated. Not getting enough sleep is a serious relapse trigger; feeling tired or run-down often cripples our productivity, so we turn to substances (be they caffeine or illegal drugs) to keep us going.

Listening to binaural sound as you fall asleep is a form of self-hypnosis. At its most basic, it causes a trance-like state of relaxation. Some believe that this state may induce deeper, more refreshing sleep, too.

What exactly is a binaural sound? Any sort of steady, hypnotic sound input with two different but complementary channels that has a marked and scientifically proven effect on brain waves. The brain’s response to binaural waves is clear; researchers have identified responses in the brain when listeners dialed in. If you’ve ever felt entranced by dance music or electronica, you have experienced a variation of binaural sound.

Theta sounds (between 4 – 8 Hz in frequency) that move into Delta sounds (4Hz and under) seem to be best for lulling yourself to sleep. While this won’t have an immediate effect on mental clarity, better sleep certainly will.

These wonderful meditation routines are simple, easy to integrate into your life, and widely beneficial regardless of what addiction you’re recovering from. Added on to an overall recovery plan, including one-on-one or group therapy and medical management, they are an effective way to reduce stress and improve mental clarity. If you find yourself still struggling with clarity, consider speaking with your therapist or physician. Certain medications may help.

Being Of Service, Because Helping Others Helps Us All

Being Of Service, Because Helping Others Helps Us All | Transcend Texas

If you ever attend an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, you will undoubtedly hear about the program’s 12th and final step:

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

This important and final step isn’t something that recovering addicts focus on until they gain a strong foothold in their own recovery process, but it is immensely valuable to them when they do. Service to others teaches us everything from compassion to patience and even gratitude for own ability to escape addiction, not to mention the many ways it benefits people in recovery.

Most people have at least a baseline understanding of why volunteering and helping others is such a good thing. But do you understand why it’s so valuable in recovery? If not, you’re in luck; we’re about to break it down right now.

Supports Your Recovery

Before we have the opportunity to help others, we must first help ourselves. Recognizing how service to others benefits you is the first step to understanding what makes it so important.

No matter where you go for assistance with your addiction, you’ll find others who came before you waiting. Recovering addicts often go on to become counselors, therapists, addiction nurses, and nursing assistants in residential facilities all across the country. They lead AA meetings, do outreach work, and sometimes, just lend a helpful ear to other addicts.

Recovering addicts who work within the addiction industry understand what you’ve been through and what it takes to come out the other side. In nearly all cases, they, too, have benefitted from the attention of a recovering addict early on their journey.

The adventure comes full-circle with each newly recovered addict helping those still at rock bottom. In this way, the movement grows and more people reach healing over time. It’s important to be grateful for that help – much of which comes in the form of volunteer work – as you make your way into a sober life.

Improves Your Mood

Whether it’s within the recovery industry or just at your local animal shelter, service to others can improve your mood. This is a fact that science can demonstrate quite clearly; studies like this one show a clear link between regularly helping others and feeling happier, less anxious, and less depressed.

In fact, one London School of Economics study showed that people who volunteered at least once every two to four weeks reported feeling happier than their non-volunteering counterparts – to the tune of almost 12 percent. In the recovery industry, where mood disorders and dual diagnoses are common, that’s a significant improvement.

Gives You Purpose

One of the most common complaints from people struggling with recovery is that they feel like they’ve lost their purpose or identity. Our lives become so entrenched in finding substances or seeking out behaviors that it becomes our entire being, even if it’s also what’s killing us at the same time. When that substance or behavior is suddenly removed from the equation, we’re left with facing up to our original selves and finding our place in life all over again. That can admittedly feel terrifying.

By volunteering or giving back to others, you give yourself a purpose, even if that goal is temporary. It’s a constant reminder of the fact that you are worthy of life (a sober life, at that), that you have something to offer, and that you deserve love just as much as everyone else. There’s nothing quite like feeling needed, and people who are fresh into sober living can certainly benefit from the lessons you have to teach them after you’ve walked the path for a while yourself.

There’s also nothing quite like the satisfaction of talking someone out of using when they call you, their sponsor, in the middle of the night. Sometimes what we need most is just a friendly ear. Never doubt how much you provide just by offering someone a friendly ear.

Teaches You Valuable Social Skills

For most of us, re-learning how to socialize after we get sober is…well, challenging. We’re so used to the effects of drugs, alcohol, or even sex soothing awkwardness and getting us through challenging social situations that we’re sort of lost and delirious after it’s taken away. But that’s not a bad thing; learning to socialize without substances can lead to deeper, richer, more meaningful relationships with family, lovers, and friends.

Serving others (particularly other addicts) is always a learning experience, especially when it comes to social skills. It’s no secret that it can be challenging to watch other recovering addicts go through what you once went through. But the fact that you will learn how best to support them at rock bottom while still caring for your own mental health? That’s a life lesson you can apply all across the board.

Volunteering teaches us how to meet people where they are without risking ourselves in the process. We learn how to draw safe boundaries, how to hold onto those boundaries, and when to cut the rope and back off if it’s unhealthy. Best of all, we learn how to interact and appreciate the goodness inherent in people from all walks of life.

Reminds You of Your Roots

One of the most important ways helping others find their way benefits us in recovery is through the simple fact that it reminds us of our own recovery roots. Losing your connection with your recovery community is dangerous; immersed in an average life with no focus on recovery, it becomes easy to forget all of the struggle. We start to lose sight of that severe detox, the withdrawals, the people we hurt, and how much we lost because of substances.

You may even start to view occasional use or indulgence through rose-colored glasses, especially if you’ve had a drink or two without going overboard in the past. We can begin to convince ourselves that we’re normal, our lives are normal, and there’s no longer a reason to work our steps our plan. That’s exactly what leads to sudden and extreme relapses, many of which can have devastating consequences.

By helping others find their way, you stay humble and cognizant of how far you’ve come. Sure, it’s not easy to see someone struggling during the worst of times, but it is a stark reminder of how fast casual use can get out of hand. Cultivating compassion for people in that situation can even help us to reflect and cultivate compassion for ourselves.

5 Adrenaline-Boosting Activities To Fuel Your Sobriety

5 Adrenaline-Boosting Activities To Fuel Your Sobriety | Transcend Texas

Recovery isn’t always a piece of cake. Okay, that’s probably the understatement of the century. In the first 12 months after dedicating yourself to sober living, finding ways to have fun can become a separate challenge in its own right. Boredom (the recovering addict’s biggest nemesis) can strike and increase our risk of relapse. Your energy levels may reach an all-time low as your brain’s chemistry resets and adapts to this new normal.

For people who relied on substances to motivate or energize them through the day, even just getting through work or daily tasks can seem daunting. The concept of having “fun” without your drug or behavior of choice might seem as foreign as learning to use chopsticks for the first time, but it is possible!

If you’ve been feeling bleak, restless, and bored with your new sober living lifestyle, it may be time to dial up the notch a bit. Finding new ways to boost adrenaline and endorphins in a way that’s healthy and safe is not only possible but also highly recommended. These adrenaline-boosting activities will have your heart pumping and your excitement level skyrocketing, all without the need for drugs.

Better still, they’ll provide you with valuable insight about your personality along the way.


A great many recovering addicts take up jogging or running after detox, and with good reason: it boosts adrenaline and improves overall health when undertaken correctly. Fitness Magazine states that just five to 10 minutes per day can significantly decrease your risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and stroke, improve joint strength, and even provide you with much-needed meditative alone time. If that’s not enough to convince you, some studies show a distinct link between running, faster physical recovery, and fewer drug cravings over time.

There’s also the “runner’s high” many people experience when they run; this feeling is tied to happiness-boosting brain chemicals, and may help to reduce stress and depression. The term “run it off” is very commonly heard in addictions therapy groups simply because running can let you “burn off” negative emotions like anger, sadness, or despair.

Psychologically, running teaches us to set reasonable goals, how to judge our own capabilities, and how to be confident in our physical and emotional strength, too.

So how can you make running a part of your everyday life? First, understand that it’s not as easy as slapping on the trainers and running for 30 minutes. That’s too much and too fast. First, see your doctor and have a full physical. If he or she approves, start with a 5-minute walk or jog one to two times per day. Then, slowly work towards 30 to 60 total minutes per day.

High-Impact Cardio & Aerobics

Craving company and feeling a bit restless, bored, and lonely? High-impact cardio or aerobics may be just the ticket to kick you out of that funk. Fast-paced routines like spinning, Tae Bo, and aerobic dance get you moving to the tune of fun, energizing music, picking up your heart rate and boosting adrenaline while improving overall health.

Which formats are best? The answer isn’t simple; it can differ from person to person. If you’re new to exercise in general, try starting with water aerobics for low-impact, high-energy fun. If you’re in fairly good physical shape, you have more options. The average, otherwise healthy individual should be fine to take up a basic 20-minute aerobic, spinning, or Pilates routine quite easily.

High-impact cardio is an experience best had in the comfort of others, so hit up your local gym or studio and join a group whenever possible. Excitement is contagious, and you’ll get an adrenaline boost simply from being around others who are having good, clean fun.

Rock or Mountain Climbing

Climbing the walls with boredom in recovery? Put two feet on solid ground again and save your climbing for the real deal – rock climbing. This timeless, ancient sport has been around for centuries, and it often seems that humans just have an innate nature to climb on top of the world around them. As children, we climb rocks, trees, and occasionally, objects we shouldn’t in the living room, much to our parent’s chagrin. I was often labeled a mountain goat for the same reason in childhood; if it was there, I was going to climb on top of it and feel like I owned the world.

There’s just something intrinsically thrilling about climbing. It gets your heart pumping, forces you to think on your feet, and requires you to sharpen your focus and take in the environment around you. Physically, it improves muscle strength and coordination, and may even reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.

Mentally/emotionally, it teaches you how to set and achieve reasonable goals, how to persevere, and how to be confident in your ability to make decisions, even when under pressure. It isn’t difficult to outline exactly how each of those could benefit someone in recovery.

Before you run out and start scaling the nearest cliff, understand that safety is important. Find a local club or organization and have someone teach you how to climb safely and properly. Never, ever climb alone or without equipment – doing so is dangerous and becomes less about enjoying healthy, safe adrenaline-boosting activities and more about putting yourself at risk.

Scuba Diving

Live near the ocean or maybe a lake? If so, you’re in luck. You’re one of the very fortunate few who probably have access to scuba diving – an activity that gives you a first-hand glimpse into an entire world most of us will never see. Scuba diving isn’t particularly taxing (though better cardiovascular health is possible from proper breath management and swimming), so it’s not the exercise itself that boosts adrenaline here; it’s the wonder of the underwater world.

Discovering fish, coral, plants, and shells up close and first hand induces a feeling that’s seldom found in other activities. You become the Jacques Cousteau of the recovery world, boldly going where no man (well, okay, few men, anyway) have ever gone before. That feeling of childlike wonder and amazement is hard to find in recovery, especially if you relied upon substances for excitement.

If you can afford to do so, breaking free of your everyday experience and heading to Costa Rica or the Pacific Islands will afford you one of the most sensational experiences you’ll ever have. But even just exploring the closest underwater environment? That’s pretty amazing, too.

Skiing, Snowboarding & Tobogganing

Last, but certainly not least, is downhill skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing. All three of these winter sports let you indulge your inner child and fly down the hill super-fast. Get going good enough, or learn to take ramps and jumps, and you may even find that it feels like you’re flying. It’s the sheer speed and joy experienced that’s the ticket to happiness in these three iconic winter sports, so the next time the snow hits, snuggle up in a snowsuit and head out into the frigid cold for some fun.

If you have a local ski hill nearby, take a beginner’s skiing or snowboarding class to help you learn the basics. Most hills will rent you both boots and equipment for the duration of your stay. Set yourself basic, reasonable goals and continue to practice patiently. Even though you start out on the bunny hill, you will eventually make it to the black diamond runs. Good things come with time and proper safety precautions, and you’ll find your confidence growing right along with your skill.

Don’t have a local ski hill? Take a drive around and find a good hill that doesn’t end in a roadway. Break out the equipment and make use of nature’s natural ski hills all around you. Wondering what to do if you don’t get snow? Just switch things up and get out on the water for a bit of wakeboarding or water skiing instead.

It’s easy to get into a rut in recovery. Attend meetings. Go to therapy. Eat. Shower. Rinse, lather repeat. All of these are crucial to your success, but so is having a bit of fun and excitement now and again. Remember, whatever adrenaline-boosting activity you choose, it’s important that you move forward safely and with guidance. It’s not about just jumping into the path of danger without any consideration for your health. It’s about is honing your ability to take positive risks as you develop new and healthy hobbies.

The Healing Powers Of The Great Outdoors

The Healing Powers Of The Great Outdoors | Transcend Texas

The Earth has much to teach us. If you’ve ever wandered through a beautiful valley or taken on the challenge of hiking up a mountain, you may already know this first-hand. There’s just something magical and majestic about seeing the Earth in its true, unspoiled form; it grounds us, reminds us of our place in the world, and can even help us to re-center ourselves when we’ve gotten off-track. Fresh air, the scent of pine trees, the feel of sand under your feet, or even the rough surface of stone in the desert – wherever you’re from, you have an entire world just waiting for you out there.

Whether we’re 10 or 85, getting out and experiencing the great outdoors comes with immense spiritual, emotional, and physical benefit. In a world that’s increasingly saturated by electronic devices and social media, scaling things back is crucial to good health. When you’re in recovery, every tool in your kit is important – even the little ones – so don’t overlook the benefits of healing through the great outdoors. Get in touch with the Earth, and hopefully, your inner self, and you’ll quickly grant yourself access to these incredible benefits.

Vitamin D Regulation

Mood is something that’s incredibly important in recovery, especially during the first few crucial months after detox. This is a time when brain chemistry is still notoriously unstable, producing everything from anxiety to depression and even mood swings depending on what  substance you’re withdrawing from. Research shows that getting adequate vitamin D may actually help to curb these negative effects. This leads most individuals to seek out supplements, but these can be costly and questionable with regard to quality and efficacy.

But that doesn’t mean all is lost; after all, your own body can generate its Vitamin D. Just head outdoors into the sunshine to reap the benefits. Only 10 minutes of mid-day sun exposure is needed to produce a robust 10,000 IUs of this happy-boosting vitamin, so even a short walk around the block will do.

Want to boost your Vitamin D regulation even more? Snack on sardines or a whip up a bowl of granola with a splash of fortified milk. Both contain a portion of your total daily dose requirement, something that can be helpful in winter or sunless periods of the year.

Connecting and Grounding Ourselves

Humans are forever and intrinsically connected to the Earth; we come from it, and someday, our bodies will return to it. It nourishes us and provides us with water, food, and shelter, but it’s easy to lose sight of those basics in an ever-busy world that never stops moving.

We develop these ideals that tell us we need to work harder, faster, and stronger, even if it’s to our own detriment. Society pushes us to excel past what’s even healthy, so we take up vices to help us cope with the stress. You can, in fact, even become addicted to the busyness itself and the chaos it brings.

Unfortunately, it’s exactly that type of scenario that frequently leads busy business people and corporate executives into addiction or alcoholism. Research shows that putting too much stress on your plate in recovery can actually result in relapses and slips, so moderation is important. It’s much too easy to fall into the trap of drinking more to work more, distracting yourself from the fact that your body is trying to tell you to rest. Or maybe popping just one painkiller to get rid of the pain so you can go to work when you really need sleep. This type of self-medication is a major driver in addiction and recovery.

There’s even proof that simply existing in the city may directly influence your brain and cause stress. Escaping the hubbub from time to time isn’t just fun, it makes good sense.

Getting out into nature allows us to leave all of those worries behind, at least temporarily. Better yet, it grounds us and reminds us to be grateful for all the beauty that exists around us each and every day. Clean air, clean water, even just the ability to walk, ride, or sit in nature…all of these are immense gifts that not everyone has access to. By placing your feet on the ground, feeling the wind on your face, or even just gazing out over a canyon, we remind ourselves that it’s okay to slow down, unwind, and take time to refresh our minds.

Letting Go of Control in a Healthy Manner

Nature is a wild, chaotically beautiful thing, but everything within it has its place and its purpose. This reminds us that we don’t necessarily need to be in control of everything around us at all times as long as we’re taking care of ourselves as best we can.

Picture this: you’re wandering on a hike and encounter a rainstorm; you might not be able to stop the rain, but you can open an umbrella and keep yourself from being wet. Or, you can toss the umbrella aside, realizing that the rain won’t harm you permanently as long as the weather is warm, and let it refresh you instead.

Control is a major player in addiction, especially for those who may have anxiety disorders or dual diagnoses. Even the average person in recovery can begin to catastrophize everyday problems; this is essentially what happens when someone has a slip and then decides to toss all caution to the wind instead of stopping and seeking support. Learning to let go of our mistakes while still recognizing our responsibility by making healthy choices is one of the most important lessons nature has to teach us. This is the entire concept found in the famous Serenity Poem.

Those little symbolic lessons have such a big place in recovery – a time when learning to judge risk, love yourself, and protect yourself from harm becomes so important.

You Matter (and You Belong)

As a recovering addict, it can be incredibly difficult to feel like you have a place in society. No matter how much the research argues against it, some people just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that addiction is truly an illness. Without a constant reminder, it’s easy to start feeling like society has given up on you – but nature provides the perfect reminder of why this isn’t true.

If you’ve ever stood out under a sky full of summer stars, you’ve undoubtedly felt that incredible feeling of inconsequentiality. It’s two parts wonder; one part feeling like you’re “home,” probably because you are. The Earth is your home, regardless of whether you’ve made some questionable decisions about self-care in the past or not. It’s a gentle reminder that we’re all a part of something much bigger and much more important.

That feeling of oneness is beneficial not only because it reminds us that we belong, but also because it encourages us to extend our view beyond ourselves while also being kind to ourselves, too. We are a part of the whole; thus, we deserve compassion, kindness, and support, too. And at the end of the day, we’re all just seeking the same thing – happiness and love.

Achieving Better Physical Health

Last, but most certainly not least, is the fact that getting out into the great outdoors is just plain good for your physical health, too. Exercise, for many people, is a challenge in recovery, and getting outdoors can help motivate you to get moving more often. A short walk around the block everyday may not seem like much, but that 15-minute walk will boost your heart rate, burn off calories, get your blood pumping, and even improve your cardiovascular health.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, outdoor sports like hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and even sport fishing are the perfect way to get a bit of exercise while boosting those mood-happy endorphins. Yoga in the park and equestrian sports like trail riding? They work, too. The key is to find something that gets you up off of the couch, out the door, and engaging with nature in a way that’s safe, meaningful, and beneficial to you.

Whether you love to go for long walks with your dog or you’re just trying to find a way to heal your soul, nature has so much to offer you if you’ll just take that first leap. Healing through the great outdoors isn’t only an option; for many people, it’s as required as breathing clean air and drinking clean water. It keeps us connected and in tune with the world around us, even when everything else seems out of control.