The Health Benefits of Being At One With Nature

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The memories of endless evenings as the UK was in the grip of a triple whammy summer jackpot (that’s World Cup, Love Island, and a heatwave, in case you’re wondering) already feel like a lifetime ago, don’t they? And as the nights start to draw in, temperatures start to dip and moods no longer feel quite so uplifted it’s more important than ever not to hunker down for the winter just yet. The benefits of a blast of fresh air and sunlight are not only proven to aid physical health but mental health too. And as we all get back into the routine of working the nine-to-five or studying hard, we can’t emphasise the importance of looking after YOU.

If the thought of pulling on a pair of hiking boots on a cold and dreary autumn day fills you with dread, don’t worry! A daily walk, during daylight hours, will do wonders for you. Our bodies need natural sunlight to balance melatonin levels (that pesky hormone which regulates sleep), and an imbalance can leave you vulnerable to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). So that lunchtime walk around the park is actually medicinal! In fact, scientists are really interested in the longer lasting effects of being active outdoors, recently linking that familiar feeling of happiness after a good walk with it lasting seven hours. And regular walks are obviously great for your physical health too!

Photo Credit: Catalin Sandra

Photo Credit: Catalin Sandra

For a complete reset of your circadian rhythms (that’s when your body thinks it should be asleep and awake) then the best option is…you guessed it, camping! Get back to basics with no artificial light, no Wi-Fi, ditch your mobile phone, and immerse yourself in the natural pace of the world around you. When you’re feeling rebalanced, refreshed, and back in your rhythm your physical wellbeing will not only be improved, but you’ll likely find your mental wellbeing is too. This is especially beneficial if you’re already starting to feel under pressure and out of kilter before a new semester starts at uni. Take the time now to look after yourself, and then keep it up. Go for that quick walk over having another coffee, sit and watch the clouds for ten minutes, and concentrate on taking deep breaths of fresh air. Don’t just stay glued to your desk or computer, buried by books and wondering whether it’s 10am or 10pm!

If you struggle with managing stress — and let’s face it, who hasn’t at some point? — then you might be interested to know that spending time in the great outdoors can help with that too. Even just a couple of nights away from the hustle and bustle of modern life can have a measurable affect. A 2005 study found a group of students who spent two nights camping in a forest had lower levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) than those who spent the same amount of time in a city environment. Science proving what we probably already knew? No doubt about it. But if you needed an undeniable excuse to have a weekend to check out from life then there it is. A stress-busting couple of days somewhere remote will put you ahead of the game with lower levels of cortisol in your system to hold you back.

Photo Credit: Keenan Barber

Photo Credit: Keenan Barber

Totally escaping the grind for some quality one-on-one time with nature might feel self-indulgent, particularly if it’s for more than a long weekend. But the science is there. Maybe kick-start your self-prescribed outdoor medicine by paying attention to how you feel before a walk, and then again afterwards. Mindfulness is a really effective way to slow your mental and physical pace down by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, body and the world around you. And where better to help you find some inner peace and order than the tranquility of a natural space? Whether it’s a beach, mountains, or even under your favourite tree in the local park, nature is ready to quietly bring you back to you again. You just have to take the first step outside.

Photo Credit: Michael Blum

Photo Credit: Michael Blum

One final note…

Milestone Camping asks you to be aware of the natural habitats in which you’re residing, recycle where possible and leave no trace of your visit as you head off home. Happy environments mean happy camping.

Thought of something else you need? Check out our extensive catalogue of Milestone Camping products on Amazon, here.