We all love cool camping and glamping, but there’s evidence that it’s actually better for our health than we probably realise. You could say it’s food for the mind, body and soul that brings us heaps of physical and mental benefits.
Modern life as we know it is full of the Internet, social media, work, demands, mobile phones, pressure and deadlines. This has an impact on our bodies by getting it to produce extra adrenalin to deal with it all. This is called the fight or flight response, and is when adrenaline tells every cell in your body to get primed and ready for whatever it is you are stressed or worried about. Having this reaction is nothing new and the body is built to deal with it, however, what isn’t good is not taking time out to have a break to recover.
There are four things we can all do to help our systems recover ready for the next challenge, and unsurprisingly camping provides a path to all of them.
When we go camping we spend most, if not all of our time outside. Mentally focussing on all the things that make you feel great outside can do wonders for your mind and soul. Life pauses and stress levels drop making it a fantastic time for your body to have a break.
The feeling of simple achievement are also very rewarding. Such as pitching a tent, setting up the camper van or caravan, and making a home away from home. This answers one of our very basic needs to create shelter. Then if we start a fire, cook our food with minimal tools, and sleep and wake with nature we get into the rhythm of nature and basic survival, therefore nurturing our natural instincts.
When we go camping we also love the process of simplifying, subtracting and stripping back from our normal cluttered and hectic daily lives. This gives us more opportunity to really get in touch with nature, find some solitude and time to switch off, and simply to breath. This space and clarity allows us to really see everything in natures playground, listen to it speak and be reminded of how amazing it all is. This in turn helps us put everything else back into perspective. Being outside in the fresh air also seems to heighten our senses, which can bring more rewards. Food tastes better, air smells cleaner and the birds and nature sound louder.
Exercise and Movement
When we go camping we have more opportunity to get involved in hiking, surfing, fishing, playing with the kids on the beach and simply doing what we enjoy. Exercising and moving is simply one of the best ways to combat an overworked body, mind and soul, in an over committed lifestyle. Getting involved with exercise and movements that also focus on your breathing can also be hugely benefitting. Tai Chi and yoga are excellent for a bit of campsite de-stressing and encouraging your body to rest and repair. This is the mode you need to be in to heal, burn body fat effectively and regain perspective about the important things in life.
We get a lot of nutrients from the sun when we spend a lot of time outside, but we also need to top these up by enjoying nutrient rich foods. This is even more reason to enjoy the campsite forage. Your food is freshly picked, has no preservatives and if you choose you picking site well then there will be no pollution either. There are plenty of books and iPhone Apps to help you find and identify the right plants and berries, and its fun for the whole family to get involved. A book we love is Richard Mabey’s Food For Free but there are many foraging books to choose from. As for Apps, this is a great beginners guide to wild food foraging in the UK and for those readers in the USA this App has had great reviews too.
This is the other time we go into rest and repair mode… when we sleep. It’s a simple thing but restorative sleep is crucial for us to function properly. Winding down from stimulating activities from 9 pm onwards can help and as the act of camping naturally does this, especially if you have children in the tent, then it’s the perfect way you can get into the mood for sleep. Added to the fact that you’ve been out in the open air all day being active and exercising, it’s very likely you will sleep remarkably well and wake naturally with the sounds of the birds.
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Picture Credit: Sarah Riley