The Greening of Addiction Recovery – It’s Spring!

recovery walk swans


Do you remember the scene in the movie Bambi when the ice melts, flowers bud and everyone gets “twitterpated”? The word holds a different meaning these days, but in the old movie, it depicts the way we all feel about spring. Renewed, restored and ready for what life offers.


That’s especially true for those in recovery…

Because spring is a new beginning – a metaphor for rebirth. And it begs the comparison to recovery after a long, cold winter of addiction. Spring is also the time to get outside and experience nature and community. The path quite literally widens. (Especially in places where winter dumps mini-mountains of snow on every surface.)


We have morning and afternoon walking groups at Sanford House .I lead the early morning walks for women. Craig T. leads the men in the afternoon. And as the weather turns milder and we experience more light, I have noticed a decided “spring” in the walkers’ steps. Everyone seems more open to chat. Quicker to laugh… Morning walkers leave before things get started at the treatment centers. We walk about three miles (all ages and fitness levels), just as Grand Rapids is waking up. There’s River Walk, Stairs of Determination, Historic Homes Tour, Reeds Lake Loop and more.


What a way to start the day! 


Taking Advantage of the Milder Weather

I’ll be honest, it’s not as easy to get takers on “Walks With Mare” when it’s still dark at 7 AM. But we’ve seen some spectacular sunrises over Reeds Lake in winter. And that first cup of hot, brown liquid is so much more rewarding after a brisk trek. There are no excuses when it’s warm and light, and walking/hiking is my passion so I am always stand-ready – always glad I went. Wellness Coach Kathy Morrow also takes advantage of milder weather. She supplements the gym with Vitamin D rich, out of doors activities.


recovery walk

Reeds Lake, Grand Rapids, MI


And In Case You’re Not Convinced…

 20 Reasons Getting Outside in the Springtime is Great for Recovery:


1. Walking outside can improve your mood, lessen depression and anxiety!

2. A stroll out of doors makes you more creative…

3. The exercise helps with weight control and overall wellness. 

4. Anyone can do it – go at your own pace. And if you are unable to walk, sit on a park bench and breath...


Walking is such a big part of my own recovery, I want to share it with others… “Walks With Craig” Sanford House at John Street


5. Go it alone and meditate, experience solitude, explore the spiritual.

6. Walking with a group inspires the 4 Cs: community, connection, conversation and commitment!

7. While you’re at it, exercise your brain (walk backwards). 

8. A walk on a gorgeous day is free – there are no hours or rules (except don’t litter and look both ways before crossing…).

9. Trekking is good, sober fun.

10. A long walk is time consuming! Something that comes in handy in early recovery – rain, sleet or shine.

11. Springtime walks clear the head and inspire the mind!

12. Start hitting the stairs or hills – you’ll shape your glutes and trim your thighs.

13. When’s the last time you got excited about a butterfly or a single flower in a dry field? Walking mindfully makes you feel like a kid again!


spring flower

One little flower… a harbinger of spring! Yay!


Forgetting your Troubles?

The fact is, when you push yourself to get off your chair, go faster, climb a hill (or a mountain), it occupies your body and your mind. Looking out at a vista after a long trek, or just breathing in the fresh, new air of May takes you outside of yourself. You forget your troubles for a while. And that’s good for the soul. Not to mention, you’ll sleep more soundly and have a better appetite for healthy foods.


Challenging yourself builds self-esteem. We could all use some of that. An early morning walk prepares you for the day – energized. And a walk in the afternoon is better than a cup of coffee to rev up the metabolism! When you open your eyes to the absolute wonder of spring, the greening of your recovery, you remember that the world is a wonderful place and you belong in it … vibrant, aware and perfectly present.







Marilyn Spiller is a writer, sober coach, recovery advocate, and student of the world. (She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing). Seven years sober herself, she penned one of the first sobriety blogs, "Waking Up the Ghost" in 2013. The blog garnered an international following, allowing Marilyn to communicate with thousands of folks in all stages of recovery. Marilyn is Sanford's Director of Marketing and serves as Editor-In-Chief for the Sanford online magazine, "Excursions". She also developed and hosts the podcast Anatomy of Addiction.