According to a recent study, 40 million US adults currently suffer from anxiety. That’s almost 15 percent of the adult population. With this many people suffering from anxiety, it’s no surprise that many are turning to the great outdoors as a source of relief.
So, can camping help anxiety? Yes, and we’re about to talk about how camping can boost your serotonin levels, expose you to plenty of fresh air, and get you away from modern life and technology, which can trigger anxiety attacks.
All of this is assuming that camping itself doesn’t make you anxious. If it does, maybe you’ll be less anxious after learning about how good camping can be for your mental health.
Camping Boosts Your Serotonin Levels
Okay, so this is only half true. Actually, any recreational activity can boost your serotonin levels. Since serotonin is your brain’s “happiness hormone”, you’ll feel less anxious while you’re body is producing a lot of this essential chemical.
One important aspect of this happiness seems to be the pleasure of getting away from your daily routine and spending time with friends. We’re all social creatures, which can be particularly challenging if your anxiety makes it difficult to seek out time with your friends. A weekend camping trip will force you to overcome your mental obstacles and actually spend time with people you want to spend time with.
Camping Gets You Away From Technology
Modern technology has done some amazing things. Social media alone has forged tens of thousands of relationships, kept innumerable friendships together, and helped families stay in touch across thousands of miles.
Unfortunately, social media – and modern communication in general – can be a minefield of stress bombs for people who suffer from anxiety. If you’re feeling like even your own bedroom isn’t safe from outside intrusion, maybe it’s a good idea to go somewhere where your phone is literally incapable of grabbing your attention.
Not only can this help you avoid stressful triggers, it can also help you reconnect with friends and loved ones (see our last point). You may be surprised at the deep conversations you’ll have with your significant other when you’re not both distracted by separate LED screens.
Camping Gives You Fresh Air
One contributing factor to anxiety is low blood oxygen. This is a major problem in the developed world, where we live and work in sterile, heated and air-conditioned environments where outside air doesn’t get much chance to cycle through.
So why spend a weekend watching Netflix on your couch, and breathing the same stale air? It’s not helping your anxiety. That said, Stranger Things Season 3 was well worth binging, and we can’t wait for Season 4. But we digress.
Spending a weekend in the wilderness will flood your lungs with fresh, clean air. That can do wonders for your anxiety symptoms, as well as improving your overall physical well-being. And afterward, you’ll feel that much more at ease while you’re binge-watching the latest streaming hit.
Camping Changes Your Perspective
If you live on a farm out in the middle of nowhere, you can skip this point. Also, you’re very lucky. Congratulations!
For the rest of us, grey skyscrapers or soulless suburban subdivisions are the norm. If you’re suffering from anxiety, these types of environments can feel claustrophobic and increase feelings of hopelessness and distress.
Why subject yourself to the same depressing monotony, when you can spend your days off wherever you like?
A weekend or even a day of camping will allow you to spend time in nature, where nothing is man-made and everything is just as it was before people started building cities. In a word, it’s peaceful, and a peaceful environment is just the thing you need to lower your blood pressure and slow your breathing.
Not only that, but a change of setting can change your mental state for days or weeks to come. Sometimes, it’s reassuring just to remember that nature is out there, ready to visit whenever we need to.
You Can Cut Loose While You’re Camping
Many people who suffer from anxiety experience social anxiety, a general malaise you feel when you’re expected to behave in a socially acceptable fashion around others, particularly strangers. Once again, our modern lifestyles haven’t done much to help with this particular issue.
But you know what’s awesome about camping?
Nobody’s watching you, except maybe a close friend or two. Nobody cares if you want to sing a silly, made-up song, or go skinny dipping, or roast your marshmallows until they catch fire and leave nothing but a burnt, black husk. Okay, we’re lying. There’s no excuse for abusing an innocent marshmallow that way.
But other than that, you can do whatever you like and be yourself. That’s the kind of freedom you just won’t find in an office building or a shopping mall. So, can camping help anxiety? Absolutely. Think about it – you’re leaving all of the things that were causing you anxiety in the first place. Book a weekend, don’t make too many plans, and we’ll bet that you find the solace that you’ve been looking for.