Why Camping Is Good For Your Mental Health

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

Why Camping is good for your mental health

How does camping help your mental health?

Spending time near nature has been shown to have positive effects on your physical well-being: it returns your body’s natural rhythms when you sleep without artificial light, not to mention the exercise you get.

Yet nature doesn’t affect just the physical aspect, it is also good for your mental health:

Camping lowers stress levels

The modern world is a highly urbanized space with little opportunity for people to commune with nature. This type of environment contributes to a continued rise in people’s stress levels.

Studies have found that a minimum exposure of 5 minutes to nature showed a positive improvement in mood and self-esteem. That is five minutes of being near greenery, imagine the effect a weekend camping trip will have on stress levels.

Camping reduces depression and anxiety 

As nearness to nature lowers stress levels, it also has a similar effect on depression and anxiety. A survey done in Wisconsin reports that neighborhoods with higher levels of green space showed lower levels of depression and anxiety symptoms. 

Camping helps children with ADHD 

Nature not only benefits the general population but also children with ADHD.

A study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that exposing them to nature for at least 20 minutes has been shown to enhance their concentration performance with results comparable to ADHD medications.

Camping Increases life satisfaction

Camping allows you to accomplish things that you normally wouldn’t have in the comfort of your own home. It can be as simple as pitching your first tent, finishing your first trail, or conquering a mountain peak. Being near nature relieves stress but experiencing direct contact with nature brings out a feeling of satisfaction.

Happiness

The experiences you go through when camping, the camaraderie with fellow campers, and the exposure to the wonders of nature induce positive emotions, one of them the feeling of happiness. 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is described as the awareness and acceptance of present-moment experiences. Camping offers activities that promote mindfulness. 

  1. Being away from the usual routine allows you to be in a state of heightened awareness when learning new things. 
  2. Without the distractions of normal life, you can direct attention to your feelings and thoughts. This helps you to meditate on your present state.
  3. Activities such as hiking involve repetitive motion, regular breathing, and alertness which encourage mindfulness. These functions are seen in sports that need concentration such as long-distance running.

Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy increases with accomplishing tasks. It is the ability and confidence to achieve a goal. In camping, there are challenging activities to go through. Once these are successfully completed, this allows a person to reflect on their experience and how they exercised their capabilities.

The whole camping experience is not just going to a campsite and pitching a tent. It is also a time to:

  • Reset and recharge 
  • Boost your physicality
  • Improve mental health

How to make your camping relaxing

Planning the activities is one of the most essential parts of a camping trip. Make sure to choose what your family or your fellow campers enjoy. Below are some suggestions for a fun and relaxing camping trip:

Water activities

There are many camping activities to do in the water if your campground is near beaches, rivers, lakes, or streams. However, being in the water is different from doing activities on land. Be sure to take the necessary safety precautions such as wearing life jackets or other appropriate attire, and sun protection.

Fishing

Fishing is a relaxing activity that can be done alone or in a small group. Many campsites have places where you can do this, just follow the rules and provide the required license.

Boating

This is a great way to explore the waters near your campsite. You can also do other activities like birdwatching or animal watching when you are in the boat.

Skipping stones 

This may be a childhood game familiar to many of us, but doing this will never grow old. You can do the usual competition to see who can do the most skips or teach others who do not know how to skip stones.

Swimming

Swimming is an activity that offers many great benefits. Used in physical therapy,  it allows your body to move in ways that promote physical and even psychological healing.

Sports activities

Doing sports activities provides opportunities for exercise and bonding moments if you’re with a group.

Tag/Chasey

Have 30 minutes to spare before dinner? Play a few rounds of the tag to pass the time. This is a great way to have fun and at the same time exercise your body.

Hide and seek

This is a great activity for kid campers. A campsite offers a lot of great hiding spots.

Biking

If your campsite has biking trails then this could be an activity to do during your trip. It’s an easier way to immerse yourself in the experience without taking your car.

Hiking

Hiking is an activity done on almost every camping trip. You can combine other activities like bird or animal watching with hiking for an enjoyable experience that doesn’t involve just walking.

Mountain climbing

A camping trip to the mountains allows you to fully immerse yourself in nature for a short period of time. Conquering that peak also gives you that feeling of accomplishment, increasing mindfulness and self-efficacy.

Family camping activities

Bringing your family camping can be overwhelming. There is a lot of stuff to pack and prepare. Not to mention that you will have to watch out for your kids during the trip. To keep the family occupied, here are a few things to do:

  1. Bird watching
  2. Stargazing
  3. Photo safari – take pictures of animals or plants

These activities not only give your family the chance to enjoy the whole experience but also learn new things.

Self-time

Camping is a great way to spend time with yourself and just relax:

Listen to nature

When you live in urbanized locations, there are little to no opportunities to hear nature’s sounds. When you go on a camping trip you are surrounded by birdsong, insects chirping, the sound of the wind in the trees. Listening to nature is a great way to immerse yourself in the camping experience.

Meditation

Camping can be a wonderful opportunity for a spot of meditation. This activity can be as simple as sitting the trees in silence and just breathing in and out.

Take a nap

Self-time activities also include taking naps. Remember camping is all about resetting and recharging your body. Take a nap and fall asleep to the sounds of nature.

Activities inside the tent

During your camping trip, there may be rainy days when you can’t go outside for your activities.

These days may happen without warning so prepare some indoor activities that your family can do to pass the time. The activities can also be something to do before going to bed.

Card games

These make the easiest activities to prepare and whip out when you need them. Bring a variety of card games for everyone to enjoy.

Read books

Books can be a little heavy to bring during camping trips. Limit your choices to three books and choose paperbacks so they won’t add to much weight to your packs.

Shadow play

This is a fun game to play at night before going to bed. Kids especially enjoy it, so practice a few shadow forms or bring an instruction book on shadow play.