After a year and half of the pandemic, Americans are traveling regionally in droves. From Washington to Maine, people are ready to roam the national parks of America and explore and see something new.
But it’s not the hotels and resorts that are booked up for months in advance, it’s campsites and national parks. There’s something therapeutic about a good camping trip or overlanding excursion; being outdoors provides healing and rejuvenation. What is it about these natural environs that we find so healing, and why are we so drawn to spend time in them?
The National Park Service (NPS) offers a list of the best places to explore near you.
For many, the nourishment from time outdoors impacts four essential components of our wellbeing:
Camping for the mind
Camping provides mental health benefits in a variety of ways. According to an article in the Huffington Post, camping can reduce depressive symptoms and help avoid negative thought spirals. When you go camping, the brain tends to be able to let go of your accumulated stress and anger. Researchers don’t fully understand how this process works, despite its proven benefits. Camping has even been linked to an increased sense of confidence and well-being. It’s been found that memory can also be improved by camping frequently, so if you find yourself with brain fog, particularly in the wake of the global pandemic, then nature might be just the thing to help you find clarity again.
Those benefits may have a long-lasting impact: experts believe you can live longer by connecting to nature and grounding.
Camping for the body
Camping is also excellent for your body (the Council of Auckland, New Zealand is just one of the latest sources to point this out). Camping is hard work, and you’re likely to get a lot of exercise in the process, making it a comprehensive sort of exercise activity as well. You’re going to be getting solid cardio from all the hiking that you do (not to mention a good night’s sleep), and setting up your camp and chopping wood is a great way to strengthen your muscles. Instead of sitting in a chair, staring into a screen like many of our work days, you’ll be active throughout the bulk of the day, breathing fresh air into your lungs.
Camping, in many ways, is going back to what the human body was designed to do, and your body and nervous system will thank you for it. It also helps us reconnect to our environment, helping us explore the interconnection of all life forms.
On your next expedition, connect to nature and improve your health by trying a workout with no equipment.
Camping for the Spirit
Camping is nourishing for the spirit, for so many reasons. A post by Thrive Global suggests it’s because it offers us relaxation, the opportunity for quality time with loved ones, and chances to meditate. (The Huffington Post, too, touted the sense of awe and wonder we find in nature.) Camping helps promote a sense of confidence and wellbeing that can be difficult to find elsewhere. It’s also an excellent way for you to simplify your life into basic survival skills, which can offer a special sense of empowerment. Humankind evolved to live in nature so it makes sense that we find it soothing in so many different ways. While you’re out in nature and looking at the trees, curl up on your favorite blankets and read The Overstory by Richard Powers. It may just be the best day you’ve ever had.
Camping for community
Camping is a fantastic way for people to experience a sense of community and belonging. Attending a summer camp as a youth is a great way to make lifelong friends and learn to socialize among your peers in a skill-building environment. According to a study from the University of Waterloo, many of the experiences children have while camping carry forward into school and the workforce as they learn to work with others toward a common goal. Adults can benefit from similar experiences in a group camp setting with friends, family or coworkers. One of the biggest benefits of camping, which nearly all the sources here promote, is the chance to come together and share an experience with friends and family. Forging these new experiences together can help us feel closer to our fellow humans.
As the world begins to recover and reopen, it’s easy to see why so many are rushing to book campsites. Camping offers myriad benefits and a return to our more primal selves. It’s one of the best ways to shake off the stress accumulated with modern, fast-paced living. Consider taking a national parks road trip when you can, and see as many of the national parks of America as possible.
Your campsite is waiting.
1. Have you camped at a national park before? What was your most memorable experience doing so?
2. How do you incorporate regular time in nature into your routine?
There’s something therapeutic about a good camping trip or hiking excursion. Many of us need to get lost in the woods and connect to nature after the isolation of the global pandemic and amid the daily presence of technology.
When you go camping, something in your brain is able to let go of your accumulated stress and anger. While we don’t fully understand how this process works, benefits seem to abound.
Camping helps promote a sense of confidence and wellbeing that can be difficult to find elsewhere. It’s also an excellent way for you to hone basic survival skills. Humankind evolved to live in nature so it makes sense that we find it soothing in so many different ways.
What are your favorite national parks in America, and why?