Colorado Springs is located in one of the most beautiful settings to be found anywhere. But when you are struggling with a mental health disorder or a substance use disorder, it can be easy to not see all of the natural beauty nearby. In fact, those struggling with things like depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, or problematic substance use may feel unable to appreciate beauty of any kind—even when it comes in the form of majestic mountain views.
Nature Is Healing
However, as people move into recovery and regain some perspective, the natural world becomes more appealing and may even support the healing process. Research shows that spending time in nature and getting plenty of exercise are both excellent ways to support your mental health and/or your ongoing recovery from a substance use disorder. And the wide open spaces in the environs surrounding Colorado Springs often have plenty of wonders to choose from.
That said, you will want to be mindful of current public health conditions in the area before venturing out. Make sure you follow recommendations for keeping yourself and others healthy.
Getting Out Into Nature: The Benefits
Among the benefits of spending time in the natural world is a marked reduction in the body’s stress levels. In fact, some people report having a peak experience (which seems appropriate here in the home of Pike’s Peak!) in which they feel intensely well and connected to the world around them.
But just like you don’t have to climb all the way to the top of a mountain to get some exercise, you don’t have to have a peak experience to get real benefit from being outdoors and active.
Those benefits include:
- The absorption of vitamin D from the sun’s rays. Vitamin D lessens the symptoms of depression.
- The likelihood of better sleep. The combination of reducing stress and getting some exercise can lead to better sleep—which, in turn, supports your mental health.
- A boost to the immune system. Getting active in the outdoors supports your overall health, including supporting your immune system (which can be especially important for those who may have damaged their immune system via a substance use disorder).
- A reduction in rumination. Surrounding yourself with natural beauty is a good way to interrupt the chatter in your head that tends to focus on negative thoughts, memories, and emotions. Of course, that negative chatter is not good for your mental health, so letting nature help you escape the cycle of rumination is a great idea.
- Battling boredom. Feeling bored can, over time, undermine your mental health and/or make cravings for drugs or alcohol more difficult to resist. Because the natural world is a source of endless surprises and beauty, it can help you set boredom—and the dangers that come with it—aside.
- Getting on top of chronic pain. For some, exercise can help reduce the intensity of chronic pain, thereby reducing the need to rely on potentially addictive painkillers.
Getting Out Into Nature: Some Options
As we have noted, the Colorado Springs area offers a wealth of wonderful outdoor experiences. For example, there are many beautiful trails for hiking and biking—and enough options that you can get started no matter what your current level of physical health might be.
You could, for example, start with Garden of the Gods Park, which offers both paved and natural trails that aren’t too strenuous and offer magnificent views. Garden of the Gods has been rated the top park in the United States by TripAdvisor, and it is right here in our area.
Or you might consider Fountain Creek Nature Center with its namesake creek as well as marshes, meadows, cottonwood forests, and ponds to explore. Or perhaps you would like to spend some time in the great outdoors with your canine companion. If so, Bear Creek Dog Park—a 25-acre, fully-fenced off-leash park you and your dog can enjoy together.
Take a Peek at Peak View if You Need Help
Peak View Behavioral Health is ready to help you or a loved one find your way to a more beautiful experience of life. We offer personalized, compassionate care for those struggling with mental health disorder, substance use disorders, or a combination of the two. When you are struggling, it can be impossible to notice the beauty all around you. Peak View can help you enjoy the view once again.