Challenges that exist when dealing with nature can be seen as growth mechanisms toward making fundamental changes in clients’ lives. Kayaking has long been utilized as a pursuit to supplement addiction treatment because of how the activity helps individuals connect with nature while developing teamwork, a healthier approach to control, responsibility for one’s own actions, understanding of consequences and other attributes needed to maintain strength and mindfulness in recovery.
Kayaking also helps clients develop self-esteem and increases feelings of joy and pleasure, all things once lost to substance abuse. When navigating the water and the challenges it presents, clients are provided opportunities to deal with situations that they later draw upon in other therapy sessions for greater self-discovery.
While outdoors, clients experience change, personal empowerment and emotional growth. Because they are very focused on the activity itself when kayaking, rather than whether or not kayaking is therapeutic, clients become unguarded and open to their own feelings and those of others. Greater authenticity develops and leads to deeper conversations after their outdoor experience, allowing them to reflect upon their behaviors, thoughts and emotions of the journey and their past. This makes clients more objective in their own healing and helps them become more authentically self-aware.
Finally, enjoyment of nature while kayaking is a healthy pursuit that can be enjoyed almost anywhere as part of a clean, sober lifestyle. It’s a new hobby open for discovery by clients for later use to alleviate anxiety and other obstacles to ongoing recovery. For clients of addiction rehabilitation, this pursuit can provide a much-needed healthy and physically productive pastime for filling time they would have previously filled by seeking, gaining and using their substance of choice.