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Working Through Shame in Outdoor Therapy

Working Through Shame in Outdoor Therapy

The iconic German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once asked and answered, “What do you regard as most humane? To spare someone shame.” Shame is often a big part of active addiction. Struggling individuals wonder why they cannot recover on their own, and why they keep hurting the ones they love. The good news is that in recovery there are ways to work through that shame and come out healed on the other side. One of those ways involves outdoor therapy.

Addiction Is No One’s Fault

For most of history, addiction was viewed as some type of moral failing or individual choice. Now, it is widely understood that that is no longer the case. Addiction is a disease. It is a chronic disease similar to cancer, diabetes, or heart disease in that, without some type of professional intervention, it will almost always get worse.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also classifies addiction as a disease. According to NIDA, “Addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body, both have serious harmful effects, and both are, in many cases, preventable and treatable. If left untreated, they can last a lifetime and may lead to death.”

However, unlike many other chronic diseases, addiction is one of the few diseases that brings with it a level of shame. For example, one would never feel shame for having a disease like cancer. Yet, with addiction, it is almost the norm. This shame must be eliminated if optimal recovery is to occur.

Eliminating Shame in Recovery

Three steps can greatly help an individual work through and get past the shame of addiction. One is to acknowledge that they have a problem that is out of their control. Two is to accept help for that problem. Three is to take action and start the process of recovery.

There are also many tools that can help people in addiction recovery work through their shame. One effective tool is psychotherapy. Psychotherapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help get to the underlying issues of guilt and shame that often keep an addiction progressing. Other methods that can help people work through their guilt and shame are holistic healing methods like yoga and meditation.

For example, yoga offers many benefits that can help reduce shame. According to the International Journal of Yoga (IJOY), “Yoga therapy involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional and spiritual pain, suffering or limitations. Yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.” Another highly beneficial modality for working through shame is outdoor therapy.

What Is Outdoor Therapy?

Many people don’t realize how powerful time in nature can be. According to the National Park Service, “5 minutes walking in nature improves mood, self-esteem, and relaxation. Frequent exposure to nature reduces anxiety and depression, while promoting a sense of [well-being] and fulfillment. Physical activity in a green space can reduce stress and lower cortisol levels by 15%.”

Outdoor therapy (also known as nature immersion therapy) is an experiential therapy that helps individuals connect with their emotions via connecting with nature. It also involves discussing those connections with a professional therapist.

Experiencing nature is a great way to work through shame while also gaining many other benefits. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Besides physical health improvements, nature exposure can bring about positive influence upon psychological constructs such as boredom, friendliness, well-being and liveliness. However, across more than one hundred studies on nature/wildlife exposure, stress mitigation has been shown to be one of the most consistent and important psychological benefits.” These psychological benefits are where the shame reduction lies.

Whole Mind-Body Healing and Working Through Shame in Outdoor Therapy With New Creation Recovery

Here at New Creation Recovery, we understand that people come into treatment holding onto a lot of guilt and shame. That is why we always remind our clients, “We are here to love you until you learn to love yourselves.”

Friedrich Nietzsche also famously said, “The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” The same is true with recovery – gratitude is essential, if shame is to be eliminated. That gratitude can be found in connecting with nature with outdoor therapy.

Shame has no place in recovery. It must be combated with love and compassion. We can help make sure that happens. The key is to take the first step and we can help take them the rest of the way.

Many individuals experience shame related to addiction, mental illness, and relapse. Shame is common, especially with relapse. Outdoor therapy (also known as nature immersion therapy) can help you or a loved one work through shame and heal. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or co-occurring disorders, we can help get you on the right road to long-term recovery right away. Recovery is possible. You don’t have to go through this process alone. For more information about the benefits of outdoor therapy and other effective experiential means, methods, and modalities, please reach out to New Creation Recovery today at (877) 868-5730.