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Why our lake is so beneficial to recovery

Image of Tikvah Lake Recovery lake view

According to experts on the human body up to 60 percent of what we physically are is water. The human brain and heart are composed of even more – around 75 percent water.

It’s no wonder then that people always say they feel better when around water – whether it’s the sea, a river, a pond or a lake as we are so fortunate to have here. Our shimmering lake lapping up to our lawn is absolutely perfect for recovery.

From virtually everywhere at our luxury house, there are views of this stunning 200-acre body of water. From first arrival onwards its tranquil waters give our guests a sense of calm reflection.

Our experienced team knows that the environment for anyone looking to recover from such as depression needs to be totally conducive to lowering stress. We see the lake as a wonderful healer in itself.

Blue space therapy to beat the blues

Tikvah Lake Recovery-lakeside recovery

We have seen dozens of our guests arrive here only to tell us that such as their anxiety, depression or craving eased on just seeing the lake. It’s clear that a connection with a “blue space” is something that will wash away the blues and any anxieties.

For several years now therapists have known the benefits of being in a “green space” such as the countryside or a park. Now blue space therapy is something that is growing in the recovery world.

An increasing number of people are coming to know the immense benefits to mental health and well-being of blue spaces. This includes the sea, rivers, streams, ponds and lakes.

Being in nature to help recovery is what is known as ecotherapy or ecopsychology (or sometimes nature therapy). Author and professor Theodore Roszak is credited with coining the term “ecopsychology” in his book published in the early 1990s called The Voice of the Earth. He realized that a connection to nature improves emotional wellbeing and interpersonal relationships.

There’s growing evidence that a major reason for the increase in mental health problems is that more of us are living in cities and towns. Some people go months without being in or even looking at nature – and this disconnection is believed to be bad for mental health.

When Homo sapiens first arrived on the planet around 300,000 years ago we were made for the stillness and generally peaceful and quiet natural environment. In developmental terms our living environments today have outpaced us.

For many people living in a city or town, there is hardly any stillness or silence.

This means fight or flight mode is on constant alert. This can lead to problems because we are not designed for this much stress.

It is believed to be a contributory factor to such as depression, anxiety and executive burnout. In addition, it is something that some experts think plays a part in addiction to such as drugs or alcohol.

The “Rat Park” experiment

sunset lakeside view

We are extremely influenced by our environment. This includes our household, extended family living spaces and gatherings, our community and even characteristics of a nation.

“Rat Park” was a series of studies by psychologist Bruce Alexander into drug addiction. Conducted mostly in the late 1970s, Alexander’s theory was that drugs do not cause addiction.

He thought that addiction to opiate drugs commonly observed in laboratory rats exposed to them was due to their living conditions. It was not because of any addictive property of the drug itself.

To test his theory Alexander built Rat Park that was a large housing colony with 200 times the floor area of a standard laboratory cage. There were 16 to 20 rats of both sexes in residence with food, balls and wheels for play, and enough space for mating.

The rats could drink fluid from two drop dispensers. One dispenser contained a morphine solution and the other just tap water.

The rats tried the morphine solution but did not become addicted to it. But in one of the experiments some other rats in a cramped caged environment drank 19 times more morphine solution than the Rat Park rats.

So these results supported Alexander’s theory. When in a pleasant and stimulating environment the rats did not become addicted to the morphine.

Benefits of being beside water

lakeside view Tikvah lake

So now that green spaces are well known to be beneficial – if not essential – more therapy is turning to the benefits of blue spaces. Even if in a big city, many find some peace and well-being by listening to the sounds of water on such as meditation apps.

It’s something that has been developing since the 1980s. Indeed in 1981 a US study was published that concluded emotional states of people were much better when they looked at views of nature, particularly if it featured water.

Lead researcher Dr Roger Ulrich noted physical benefits such as improved heart rate as well. He also carried out a study at a Pennsylvania hospital that showed surgery patients with window views of trees and water recovered much more swiftly than those with an urban view.

Professor Michael Depledge and his team have built on Dr Ulrich’s findings. Their research in England published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology revealed that out of 120 photographs it was those photos featuring water that had the most positive affect and higher perceived restorative qualities.

It’s not just looking at the lake here that’s beneficial to our guests. There’s also the tranquil sounds of such as the lake’s wildlife and its lapping at the shores.

As well there is the lake’s freshness in the air. We are fortunate to be in a year-round sunny Florida climate with the lake right there to cool the air to make it the perfect temperature.

For meditation, reflection or reading a book, the lake’s shores are perfect. We also have a boat for exploring the lake’s stunning beauty.

Being in nature turns off our inner chatter and lets us relax. It allows us to be in the moment more easily, and a sense of calm flows into us.

Perhaps especially now with COVID-19 affecting everyday life so much, it’s important to get away from it all. We are very lucky to be in an extremely safe part of Florida.

To find out how Tikvah Lake Recovery can help you or someone you care about get in touch with us today.

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David Hurst

David Hurst

David Hurst has four books published on mental health recovery, including 12 Steps To 1 Hero, The Anxiety Conversation and Words To Change Your Life. He has written for national newspapers and magazines around the world for 30 years including The Guardian, GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire and The Times. He has been in successful continual recovery since January 2002.

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