Beach Activities to Improve Mental Health at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Addiction Recovery Publishing Addiction Recovery June 26, 2023

Beach Activities to Improve Mental Health at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Beach activities are just a few of the unique recovery opportunities we have to offer here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. Further, the beach reminds us of many lessons when it comes to treating our mental health. Our clients can experience recovery the moment they walk out of our epic 30-acre luxury facility and hit one of Hawaii’s iconic beaches. Relaxing on nearby Spencer, Carlsmith, and Richardson Beach, clients can immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere that resides just off of the ocean shore. 

However, beach activities don’t merely stop at the sand. There are endless therapeutic options that are available in the ocean as well. This includes surfing, swimming, and even dolphin therapy. There are also options to dive deep and swim with the local green turtles, tropical fish, and majestic manta rays. The influential poet and contemporary of Borges, e.e. cummings, once wrote of the beach, “For whatever we lose, It’s always our self we find in the sea.” This is the ultimate restorative potential of the beach and the reason we use it as one of our tools to help our clients heal at the cellular level.

The Benefits of the Beach for Mental Health

Let us start with a very literal benefit of utilizing the beach for mental health: the sun. More concisely, the sun and the essential vitamin D that it has to offer. According to Sunlight and Vitamin D: A Global Perspective for Health, published in the peer-reviewed journal Dermato-Endocrinology, “There are a variety of association studies relating vitamin D deficiency with increased risk for depression, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and neurocognitive decline.”

With responsible sun exposure, utilizing the beach quite literally offers the body what it needs to heal. This is critical for those in recovery. More often than not, addiction and other issues of mental health can leave us deficient in essential vitamins and minerals. Also, this is why we have a naturopathic doctor (ND) on-site at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. We also offer pharmaceutical-grade supplements formulated specifically for each client.

Hawaiian beaches also offer the opportunity for individuals to engage with an ecosystem that they otherwise may not have access to. Individuals can utilize the beachscape to strengthen and heal their physical bodies via activities such as jogging, swimming, and surfing. They can also expand their horizons by exploring the ocean life that the beach has to offer. Interacting with ocean life is just one of the unique beach offerings at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab.

An Overview of the Beach Activities Offered at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we use all of the resources that our surrounding has to offer, including its beautiful beaches. Whether Spencer, Carlsmith, or Richardson Beach, our clients take weekly excursions to further connect and commune with nature. This might also include swimming with green turtles and tropical fish or even feeding and engaging with the majestic manta ray. There is also the option to connect with another incredible ocean mammal by engaging in dolphin therapy.

We also offer physical therapies that utilize these beautiful beaches. This may include engaging sessions of surf therapy or yoga and mindfulness sessions that incorporate the beautiful setting of the Hawaiian beachscape to connect with something outside of our natural bodies. Our clients also have the option to engage in something wholly unique to the Hawaiian islands known as Ho’oponopono, which can be experienced outside in the shadow of the mountain for which it was created.

Bonding With the Beach

There is now much consensus among the recovery community that nature has a direct correlation with mental health healing. This therapeutic connection to nature as a practice is also sometimes referred to as nature immersion, group adventure therapy, and nature-based health interventions (NBI). 

According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Nature-based health interventions (NBI) are interventions that aim to engage people in nature-based experiences with the goal of improving health and wellness outcomes.” Also, “Exposure to natural environments has been linked with decreases in anxiety and rumination, which are associated with negative mental health outcomes, such as depression and anxiety.” What better natural environment to heal than the beautiful beaches of Hawaii?

As with other beautiful landscapes on this planet, the beach is uniquely qualified to offer us healing, and there is no better place than Hawaii to bond with the beach. There are few places in the world where you can look in one direction and follow the blue ocean all the way to the horizon line and look in the other direction and see the sky carved out by majestic mountains and live volcanoes. Hawaii is one of those few places. 

The beaches of Hawaii offer unique opportunities to unplug and completely relax and absorb the sunshine and bask in the cool coconut breezes, as well as plug in and engage in some of the most intense spiritual surf in the world. Now, of course, too much of either can be counterintuitive. However, at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we offer a comprehensive and balanced array of beach activities to supplement all of our client’s recovery plans. This includes something that is unique to us here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab: dolphin therapy.

Dolphin Therapy for Healing Issues of Mental Health

First off, what exactly is dolphin therapy? As defined in the psycho-scientific article, Dolphin-Assisted Therapy: Claims versus Evidence, “DAT [dolphin-assisted therapy] is a type of animal-assisted therapy that claims to help those who are physically and mentally ill and disabled as well as adults and children with various psychopathologies. Therapy generally involves the patient swimming and playing with dolphins in captivity-over several sessions while working on tasks such as hand-eye coordination or various verbal response targets.”

It is believed that animals and humans have been interacting in therapeutic ways for thousands of years (for over 12,000 years, according to the previously referenced article). However, animal-assisted therapy has only become more popularized in recent years. Primarily this has been assisted therapy involving horses (equine-assisted therapy) and dogs (canine-assisted therapy). 

More and more evidence is surfacing as to the efficacy of DAT. However, the primary reason that more evidence is not reported on DAT is that it is not a readily available therapy. But this is also the reason that DAT is such a unique offering at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. Another unique offering is feeding and swimming with green turtles, tropical fish, and manta rays.

Swimming With Ocean Life to Heal Issues of Mental Health

When thinking about the therapeutic benefits of ocean life, it might be interesting to know that simply observing ocean life in an aquarium has been found to have healing effects. According to the Library of Science journal PLoS ONE,  “Early research indicated a link between viewing fish in aquariums and benefits such as reduced blood pressure and increased relaxation, perhaps contributing to the widespread notion that aquariums are beneficial in healthcare settings.” 

Now, take this information and compound it exponentially, and one can see how healing not only viewing ocean life can be but also directly interacting with it. Being able to connect and nonverbally communicate with sea life better allows us to understand our place in the world and what it means to incorporate ourselves into our environment. After these “ocean therapy” sessions, many people walk away with a new sense of calm and inner peace. These feelings can also be attained outside of the water and back on the beach with holistic practices such as yoga and breathwork.

The Benefits of Yoga and Breathwork on the Beach

Yoga is a practice that has been beneficial for human healing and development for over 3,000 years. For some, yoga is a strictly religious practice. Others use it for the primary purpose of physical fitness. Yet, for many, yoga has become a pivotal part of their mental health recovery.

According to the peer-reviewed International Journal of Yoga, “Yoga encourages one to relax, slow the breath and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system and the flight-or-fight response to the parasympathetic system and the relaxation response. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rate, decreases blood pressure, lowers cortisol levels, and increases blood flow to the intestines and vital organs.” Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we have the unique opportunity to offer this yoga practice out on one of our nearby beaches.

While there are many options and places to perform yoga at our healing center, those who wish to experience the practice on the beach have every opportunity to do so. This is a good place to note that we here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab are always ready to accommodate and adjust to the individualized needs of each client. Individualization is key to our healing planning here. One outdoor activity that many of our clients like to engage in is what is known in Hawaii as Ho’oponopono.

Ho’oponopono and its Healing Effects

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we feel it is critical to embrace the rich history and culture of the islands. Ho’oponopono is part of that history. It is a practice that was originally created to help local communities resolve issues relatively quickly and peacefully.

Ho’oponopono now provides a secure, comfortable place to meditate and resolve issues and resentments and ensure that issues don’t take root and overtake one’s emotional and psychological well-being. This is all done using the traditional healing power of Madame Pele, believed to be the volcano goddess that lives in the mountain that overlooks our 30-acre luxury recovery center. It is a traditional healing ceremony that is also emblematic of how we fuse modern psychology with holistic methods and traditional practices.

Comprehensive Healing at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

While beach activities and nature immersion are an important part of our healing program at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, they are just a few of the many healing options we offer. These range from the more “traditional” mental health methods to more experiential methods. Also, some of them are uniquely specific to our recovery center.

For example, as previously mentioned, we have an on-site ND that offers natural therapies that have been shown to heal at the cellular level without having to engage in potentially unnecessary and side-effect pharmacological treatments. Rather, our clients will have their physical and emotional bodies healed via pharmaceutical-grade supplements and infusions that have been shown to be highly beneficial for treating issues of mental health.

However, we also have some of the most highly regarded professionals and specialists that utilize more evidence-based mental health therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, and interpersonal therapy to help get to the underlying core causes of mental health and addiction issues. Once these causes have been identified, then our clients have the opportunity to address them and adjust their behaviors, and heal from the damage that these underlying root issues often inflict.

The key at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab is to integrate and infuse all of these modalities and therapeutic practices together in one comprehensive healing plan. Also, the benefit of having so many options is that if a method is deemed less than effective, there is always another therapy or approach to take its place. This includes switching one beach activity out for another. Perhaps a client is not responding to dolphin therapy; there is always a surfboard or a yoga mat ready and waiting.

Nature: Connecting With Something Greater Than Ourselves

The influential philosopher and author of The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle, said that “The contemplation of nature can free one of the ego – the great troublemaker.” Often issues of mental health collapse our world down to a place where we become consumed with ourselves. Remember, ego is not a state that solely regards self-confidence. It also includes self-defeat. Nature, specifically the beach, helps us get out of both of those states so we can begin to comfortably and confidently interact with the world around us.

So often, our issues of addiction and mental health cause us to recede into our internal selves. Without intervention, this can be a very lonely place to exist. Nature, particularly the beach, is something that can help draw us back out of ourselves and then begin to heal us first from the outside in. The internal work will soon follow. 

Yes, it is critical to work on the core causing issues of mental health in recovery, but that doesn’t have to correlate to clinical treatment modalities. With the right mental health care and holistic professionals, nature immersion, holism, and traditional therapies can work together to create an individualized, comprehensive, and effective healing plan.

Recovering at the Core/Root Level at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we don’t believe in single-source recovery. Our goal is for our clients to have as many therapeutic experiences as possible so they can utilize what works for them as they out back out into their lives and have happy, healthy, successful long-term recoveries. There is no one-size-fits-all method at our recovery center. It is always unique. The goal is to get to the issues of each client at the core/root level so that whole-body healing can take place.

Borges also famously wrote that “Any life is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.” While this is beautiful, we here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab like to take it one step further and relate it to our healing ideals.

We believe that every day can be made up of moments that ultimately show us who we truly are. Sometimes, we find that a beautiful white-sand beach in Hawaii is the best place for some of those moments to come to fruition and change our lives forever.

From walking along the shoreline and taking in the view to swimming with majestic manta rays to surfing some of the best waves in the world, the beach is an ideal place to improve one’s mental health and recover from issues of substance abuse. These and other various activities that one can participate in at the beach can help one explore new interests, gain confidence, and create a life-long relationship with a healthy and healing lifestyle. These are just some of the reasons why Exclusive Hawaii Rehab incorporates the beach into its healing planning. For more information on beach activities that can aid in mental health and addiction recovery, reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.