Anxiety and other mental health issues can be difficult to manage. While many take advantage of the help that therapy, medication, and other treatments offer, there’s another thing that can also be beneficial–the great outdoors. Let’s take a closer look at camping and how it can help those with anxiety.
Table of Contents
- Is Camping Really Good for Anxiety?
- Is Camping Relaxing?
- Why Camping Might Be Good for Your Mental Health
- Tips for Camping to Reduce Anxiety
- If You Have Anxiety, You Might Give Camping a Try
Is Camping Really Good for Anxiety?
Before we take a closer look at camping and anxiety, it’s essential to make one thing clear:
We’re not doctors and shouldn’t be relied upon for advice for specific medical conditions. As always, seek advice from a medical professional regarding how activities like camping might affect you.
Is Camping Relaxing?
If you’re prepared, camping can generally help you unwind from daily stress and anxiety. Your days are your own, whether you’re going for a hike, cooking over a campfire, or just spending quality time in a hammock with a good book.
➡ Setting up a hammock doesn’t have to be stressful either. With a portable hammock stand, you’ll be relaxing in no time! Here are our top picks: 5 Best Portable Hammock Stands to Bring Camping
At most campsites, you also get a degree of peace, quiet, and connection to nature that you don’t have at home. When the sun goes down, there’s nothing to do other than enjoy an evening around the fire with friends or family where you can chat or maybe enjoy a game or two. It’s a perfect chance to take things a little more slowly–exactly what many people need these days.
Why Camping Might Be Good for Your Mental Health
So, how exactly might camping helpful for those with anxiety or other mental health struggles? There are a few varied reasons, including some you might not expect.
Being in Nature Helps Reduce Stress Levels
Experiencing peace in nature is not just your imagination. Scientific studies have shown that just 20 minutes in nature lowers stress hormones in the human body. Whether a person is standing or sitting in a city park or remote wilderness, time in nature can help decrease cortisol, removing one of the physiological causes of stress.
Camping Gets You Away from Crowds
Crowds can be stressful for everyone, especially if you have anxiety. But there’s one place you can almost always find elbow room–the great outdoors.
With so many campgrounds out there, campers can determine how much contact they want with fellow humans during their trip. This can be especially helpful for those who regularly spend time in crowded places like big cities.
Removing Digital Distractions Helps You Relax
It can be challenging to wind down in a modern home these days. With just a few clicks or button pushes, we can watch, read, or listen to almost anything. Plus, the pull of social media is constantly tugging us out of the present.
It’s easier to unplug out in nature with no wifi and limited or no cellular service. This is just one of many proven mental health benefits of a digital detox. With no shows to binge-watch or news headlines to scream at you, relaxation can naturally take hold.
Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Can Have Positive Effects
Stepping out of your comfort zone by doing something like camping is another technique known to benefit those with anxiety. You’ll build confidence and take some of the fear and stress out of new situations by challenging yourself.
Even when things don’t go perfectly, you’ll learn vital lessons and skills for self-reliance and develop an inner strength helpful in all areas of your life.
Negative Ions in Nature Might Have Beneficial Mental Health Effects
Negative ions are a type of negatively charged atom that naturally occurs outdoors, especially near flowing water. Some evidence suggests that exposure to these ions can have health benefits in humans, especially for mental illnesses like depression.
Although, the benefits of negative ions are still heavily debated. One thing most people can agree on is the mood-boosting effects of getting outside, breathing in the fresh air, and taking in beautiful views
Tips for Camping to Reduce Anxiety
Even though camping can do wonders to help those with anxiety, it’s crucial to take the proper steps to avoid potential disasters that leave you more stressed than when you started.
Don’t leave too much to chance. Be diligent when packing, checking the weather, and considering the activities you’ll be doing. Beyond obtaining camping gear and suitable clothes, figure out what else you’ll need, like cooking equipment, recreational activities or games, and other necessary items.
Similarly, if food isn’t readily available at your campground, plan out your meals carefully to avoid a supply run in town. Think about how you’ll keep perishable items cold if necessary and how you’ll prepare meals as well.
Prop Tip: You’ll likely need a good cooler if you plan to camp for several days. Check out the Best Coolers for Camping and Saving Ice to find one that will meet your needs.
Research Your Campsite
Read reviews from those who’ve camped there before, as this can provide valuable information on amenities or other things you may need to know. A quick scan of reviews can help you understand what you’re going into, which can dramatically reduce anxiety levels for those concerned about camping in the wild.
Go With Loved Ones
One of the easiest ways to potentially turn a relaxing camping experience into a stressful nightmare is to go alone. Sure, some find an extra degree of peace in a solo trip, but others may be lonely or exhausted from setting up and managing a campsite in solitude. Even worse, some feel additional anxiety about the prospect of being alone if something serious happens.
Plus, camping with friends and family is fun! You’ll share new experiences and become closer while enjoying all the benefits of being outdoors. Who knows? It may become a new tradition!
Unplug for Real
For better or worse, more and more spots that were once gloriously disconnected from the world are now entering the grid as cell phone service expands. In the not-too-distant past, you might have been forced to unplug while camping in these locations. But today, a few bars on your phone can be enough to lure you back to the stress of social media, the news, or personal drama in your life.
That’s why it’s wise to turn off your phone, put it on airplane mode, or even leave it in your car to give yourself a break. Trust us–the internet will be there when you get back, and your anxious brain will thank you.
Meditate, Nap, and Relax
Too few people truly take time to relax these days. Even many who go camping try to cram too many activities into a short trip. It’s especially important for those with anxiety to set aside time to decompress while camping.
Meditation is also a good choice, even if you don’t practice regularly. Despite some of the mystical or Buddhist overtones that may make some hesitate, the technique has been scientifically proven to help manage anxiety.
Then, there’s sleep. Most folks don’t need convincing of a good nap’s value. But in case you do, naps have many varied benefits for both your physical and mental health, reducing stress and giving your mood a boost, too.
If You Have Anxiety, You Might Give Camping a Try
The great outdoors can work wonders, especially for those with anxiety. Campers enjoy a wide range of benefits from things like no digital distractions and natural negative ions. Keep these tips in mind and give camping a try–you never know how much it could help!
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, help is available. The National Institute of Mental Health offers a full list of resources here.
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