Are you feeling stressed? Has work, family, email, social media, newsfeed, politics, environment, gym, romantic relationships, friends, obligations, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat got you feeling trapped in a hellish cycle with no escape? Lord knows it’s difficult for some of us to not feel that way.
But what if I were to tell you that you can regain a bit of control? What if there was a way that you could achieve some balance in life? To recuperate a bit, distance yourself from the ‘noise’ and restore your energy?
I already know what your thinking, and yes, there will be a tiny bit of work involved, but the payoff will be worth it. Big time.
The answer is a weekend spent in the outdoors with your phone off.
Yes, it’s as simple as that. Yes, it takes a bit of planning. Yes, you can do it. And YES it’s totally worth it.
Since the early 2000’s – and as far back as the 1980’s – research has started to show the benefits of time spent in nature to reduce stress and anxiety, improve the immune system, improve sleep and energy, and boost your mood.
Since the research has been started, we have become more connected, more urbanized, more stressed! Clearly. But with that, even more research has been done demonstrating the positive effects of time spent in the outdoors. And subsets of research on children specifically show that spending time outdoors in nature is linked to better behavior, improved creative problem solving, and reductions in ADHD.
It makes sense! And we can make a choice in our lives to take advantage of this. In my considerable experience camping is the best realization of this. Even if you have never been camping, you can still book a weekend – a mental health/physical health weekend – at a state park or national park, shut off your phone, and walk around the hills and trails.
And if you want to try camping, because it absolutely helps with the self control, it’s incredibly easy. It’s the OG original cheap vacation. Like, $15 a night on average to stay at a campsite, plus food and gas, and that’s basically it. It’s likely that your tent doesn’t even have an outlet to plug your phone in, and your car probably isn’t broadcasting wifi, it adds a huge barrier to that whole ‘connected’ thing that we are trying to escape to begin with. In my experience, I sleep better outside when I can smell nature and look at the stars anyway. During the day when you’re walking the trails, practicing a little bit of mindfulness (exploring your senses one by one) can be an incredible pathway to relaxation. At night, sitting around a campfire looking up at the amazing stars or a meteor shower without light pollution ruin the view, you can connect with human ancestors spanning thousands of generations. It’s peaceful, relaxing, and just the cheap, simple escape we need in a loud, intrusive, concrete, ‘always on’ world where happiness and contentedness are harder and harder to find.
The studies done by Dr. Qing Li show that the actual health benefits of a weekend spent in the outdoors – the study was done on the body’s ‘Natural Killer’ cells, white blood cells – last up to 30 days. In his book he cites the actual numbers of NK cell activity and even the presence of an anti-cancer protein before and after a two night, three day trip in a forest – and it is significant. Most of us can’t get a weekend away every month to heal. That’s understandable. But between spring and fall, we can find 3 weekends to spend among the trees without the internet. I’m not even saying no tech – play some music around the fire, tell your mom that you’re OK, those things are fine. But give yourself three weekends as a gift for putting up with all the B.S. that bombards us every day. In this stressful world where you feel burnout day after day after day, you deserve it.
If you are interested in my FREE e-book that will teach you exactly how to get started camping, from finding a campsite to making the best meals, and even tips and tricks to make your experience the best it can be, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Free Camping e-Book’. To be absolutely clear, you will never be sent spam, or garbage, and your email will not be sold or distributed outside of Show Me Outdoor Adventure. We don’t play those games here.
See you out there!