BENEFITS OF BEING OUTDOORS Week 4: Camping is Good for The Soul
What do you think of when you hear the word, camping? Does it bring up memories from childhood of tents, smore’s, fireflies or mosquitos?
I grew up camping all over Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota as well as taking road trips to New York, Wyoming and Arizona with our little pop-up camper. I loved the summer months when we would discover a new campground in a National Forest.
We would bring our bikes or the canoe and create new adventures pretty much every other weekend. I remember the cute and quaint towns we would pass through and which one had the best candy store or the best root beer floats.
We would create new friendships and bond over campfires and the amazing meals we would make with corned beef and hash, hot dogs and hamburgers and our favorite was to end each day with some star gazing and smore’s.
Some think of “glamping” in an RV, trailer or cabin as camping, but I still prefer my tent or a pop-up camper. Albeit, the older I get the more I love my blow up mattress. I still refuse to bring a curling iron with me on any camping trip!
Camping is good for your soul for several reasons;
1. It can offer a relaxation to your central nervous system.
2. It can calm your mind by removing technology and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
3. It can help you bond with your family and friends.
4. It can help you escape the everyday responsibilities.
5. It can offer you more quality sleep.
Studies have shown that just sitting in nature and looking at the water, trees, forest, rocks or earth can bring a stillness and tranquility to our souls. Nature brings stillness and soothes our racing minds. Sharing this with others also boosts your immunity and happy hormones. You don’t need much to make this happen. Grab a tent, tarp, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, propane, cooler and your food. Make sure you have your coffee packed so you can enjoy an early morning cup while watching the forest come alive for the day.
Camping in the woods will offer more for your soul than camping in a location with WIFI, flush toilets and electricity. The soothing part of camping comes from letting go of all the amenities for a few days and getting back to roughing it. You won’t have access to the drama happening on social media when you are far removed from it. Instead, you are truly relaxing and coming back to a state of “rest and digest” for a few days.
Taking this time off and away from modern life has the ability to recharge your mind, body and soul as well as your cognitive ability to be a better problem solver. Connecting with nature helps stimulate the part of your brain to help you be more creative and productive. You stretch your medulla oblongata when you set up your tent and your survival instinct will increase while camping as you want to make sure you can survive a storm or if animals come into your site.
You can choose to take a daily hike and improve your cardiovascular system while reducing fat cells as well as increasing your endurance and immunity. Or, you can choose to stay at the campsite and meditate. Take time to sit and enjoy nature all around you. Close your eyes and listen for three different sounds, smell three different scents, reach your hand out and touch three different textures, taste three different things on your tongue and open your eyes to look for three different types of trees. Taking time to meditate in nature will help soothe your central nervous system, fight addictions, support emotional health and elevates your mood. Camping offers a fabulous way to do this in a serene environment.
Camping offers the opportunity to create some priceless memories with friends and family. You have the time to go fishing, hiking, playing in the forest, cooking, star gazing and making campfires and smore’s. There’s no need to worry about when you need to get up, go to bed or do anything. You can take your time doing whatever you want, or nothing at all, especially if you have a hammock along for the trip.
Camping with friends and family offers your soul a wonderful rest from the buzz of normal life. Spending quality time with your friends and family creates those bonding moments and an atmosphere of love, harmony, peace and tranquility that you can remember for days, weeks, months or years to come.
Camping is a great way to increase your self-awareness. The conscious knowing and understanding of your character, feelings, desires and motives will help you become a more resilient human being as well as a happier one. When you take time in nature to focus your attention on yourself it offers you the opportunity to check in with your internal values and standards. Self-awareness offers you a clearer look into who you really are, what you may like, dislike or would like change about yourself. This is all part of your growth and expansion as a human. It is truly difficult to do this during the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives where you are being pulled in so many directions. The best time to do this is when you are quiet, in nature and calm.
Camping will increase your Vitamin D numbers by being outside in the sunshine. Vitamin D is needed to keep your heart strong as well as boost your immunity. But a low level of Vitamin D is linked to prostate cancer, colon cancer, depression and even weight gain.
Camping offers a new sense of peace and serenity along with offering you a slice of reality. My favorite thing to do when camping is to star gaze. When you are far away from city lights and traffic, the night skies come alive with so many beautiful stars and constellations. This can help you realize that you are but a small little piece of this world and you don’t have to worry about so many things that may or may not ever happen. It can help lessen anxiety and depression. My son and I have purposefully gone camping during meteor showers, full moons and when there will be total clear skies and have been amazed at what we saw. It even has elicited some deep and meaningful conversations which are priceless for this single mom.
Camping promotes mindfulness in so many ways. There are numerous studies that show how mindfulness can help your mind, body and soul heal. Mindfulness is used in cancer treatments, anxiety, depression and autoimmune treatments. It has been noted that mindfulness has boosted happiness levels in those on the brink of despair. Living in the present moment allows us to enjoy the here and now and not be consumed by thoughts of regrets from your past or worries about your future. Your focus is on this moment and the moment in front of you and that is all. Embrace this moment for what it is; exciting, scary, new, fun, enjoyable, peaceful. Take a moment right now and look around your space and notice what you see. Notice what you hear. Notice what you can touch. Notice what you smell.
Mindfulness is much easier when you leave your day to day life and explore in nature. Breathing in new air will allow you to focus on that experience. Observe what is happening around you. When you go for a walk, notice the flowers along the way. Touch the leaves on a tree or put your feet in the grass. Smell the roses or the listen to the waves crash on shore at the beach. It is much easier to do this when you are away from your technology and in the woods in your camp chair.
A great wanderlust quote is, “Escape and breath the air of new places.” This is a great reminder to take time to get away from your life and explore new places. The changes in your atmosphere will help promote a new perspective on life. After a few days of fresh air, campfires, stimulating conversations and intense star gazing you can return home with a renewed sense of purpose. Take the time to get off the beaten path to a location where you can experience life without noises and pollutants and you will see how refreshing life can be.
So many of us have jobs and careers that can suck the soul right out of you. Giving yourself a good camping trip is a quick, easy and economic way to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life. Connecting with mother nature and yourself will give you a renewed sense of meaning and could help you create some much needed change in your life. Your soul needs to be taken care of so take it and your family camping this weekend.