The healing nature of … nature. Unplug and get outdoors!

When you spend your weekdays and, let’s face it, your weekends going full tilt with work, family gatherings, exercise, and maybe a side hustle or two, it might seem as though you never have a moment to breathe. When you’ve reached that point, this is where a full immersion into nature might help you refocus.

“Getting out of doors is an evidence-based way to recharge,” says Mike Murnik, MD, vice president and senior physician executive for Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital. “Whether camping, taking a walk, or just drinking your morning coffee on the back stoop, it’s a really good way to unwind and spend quality time with yourself, your friends, and your family.  Watching an eagle or nuthatch, catching a fish or a firefly, or just admiring the progression of the greenery through the seasons can all fill your cup. The smell of balsam, lilacs, or campfire smoke will tap directly into memories and lower your blood pressure.”

What are some of the best benefits of going camping?

  • Exercise – “When I go camping, personally, I spend as much time fishing as possible,” says Dr. Murnik. “However, no matter what activities you enjoy, you’re almost certainly setting aside your phone and being more active.” In addition to walking, hiking, paddling, swimming, or biking, you’re pitching a tent, foraging for sticks and logs to keep the fire going, and carrying supplies.
  • Nature – There’s undeniably something about the fresh scent of pine and waking up to birds chirping that helps lower your anxiety and stress levels. While there are entire programs dedicated to nature-based therapy, simply spending some time in nature has been proven to benefit mental well-being.
  • Unplugging – An additional way to de-stress while you’re camping is to ignore your cellphone, emails, and text messages, and truly be present in the moment. “If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind,” says Dr. Murnik. “That email or task can wait until you return to the office, it’ll all be there when you get back. And if you’re camping the right way, you probably don’t even have service.” 
  • Reconnecting – Camping not only reconnects you with nature, but it can also help you reconnect with your family and friends. “Enjoy time with the people who are most important to you,” adds Dr. Murnik. “Those connections and reconnecting with the natural world are why we go camping.”