Camping helps unplug, relieve stress

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Jack Baudoin | Northern Star

A cliff at Pictured Rocks National Lakefront in Michigan.

Jack Baudoin, Columnist

People are stuck inside due to national and state safety mandates.

As the weather gets nicer, camping is a wonderful way to unplug from the increased use of technology brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Being out in nature can be beneficial to mental health as well.

“There is something in us, as humans, that the outdoors is our home,” said Christine Lagattolla, assistant director of Outdoor Adventures. “To live within houses and in shelter, and now within two inches of a screen, is relatively new in human history.”

Many in-person activities have transitioned to being on a screen. People are attending classes through FaceTime, and many people are carrying out their jobs from the comfort of their living room. In the first quarter of 2020, internet usage increased 47% over the same quarter the year before, according to OpenVault’s Broadband Insights Report.

Spending too much time on technology can be detrimental to a person’s mental health. Using social networking sites has been linked to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, according to a 2016 study done by the University of Melbourne and Monash University in Clayton, Australia.

It is important to make time to be away from technology. Taking a break from looking at a screen all day can help a person reduce stress, better utilize the time in the day and improve physical and mental health, according to an April 2019 Adventist Health article.

“Detaching yourself and not having that stimulus gives us an opportunity to breathe,” Lagattolla said. “To feel and exist as a human in life without those, in a sense, not real stressors.”

A great way to ensure time away from screens is by going camping for the weekend and enjoying the outdoors.

Being in nature can reduce stress, improve attention span, improve mood, increase empathy, cooperation and reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders, according to the American Psychological Association.

Going camping is also the best way to spend time with yourself. With the absence of screens and entertainment to distract, camping is the optimal time for introspection.

Being outside removes the technological distractions. This allows people to pick through their minds undisrupted — something that is hard to do in an urban environment.

I recently went camping at Pictured Rocks National Lakefront in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and all of the things mentioned above were felt in full force. 

I am by no means a seasoned camper. This trip was only my second time. At the end of the weekend, I was sore, cold and dirty, yet I would not change it for the world.

Being cooped up for over a year is mind numbing, so being able to go spend a couple of days camping on gorgeous cliff sides on Lake Superior was exactly what I needed to hit the reset button on my mind.

I was beginning to feel like a zombie, and being thrust into a gorgeous environment with no technology made me feel like I had come back to life.