Here at Intervine we are outside a lot. Like really, a lot. Perhaps this is why our team is so relaxed, stress free (mostly) and in general terms have great levels of mental health. Being outside in nature is not just beneficial for our bodies by burning calories left, right and centre but in fact equally important to maintaining your mental health. As we are all living in very strange times we wanted to focus this week’s blog on getting out there and giving yourself the mental and physical health boost you might not know you needed.
Let us start with the low hanging but very important fruit, stress. Stress can come from many many things but one of the most common is work and our smartphones. These are often connected. We are encouraged to be connected, get connected, connect more. We feel the opposite is required once in a while. Disconnect, leave the phone alone and get outside. We like the phrase, the Digital Detox. Constant notifications, buzzing, anticipation, bright screens are all too common for the vast majority of you reading this. Hiking, camping, canoeing, cycling or even just going for a quick walk are all really easy opportunities to put the smartphone second and you first. Serotonin, the ‘feel good’ chemical in your brain is believed to be activated and in many cases increased by viewing nature. According to one source, ‘Rhythmic exercise has a calming effect and the physiological effects of walking, reducing blood pressure and increasing heart rate, also help to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Walking is always beneficial, but being by water has been shown to be especially soothing, so try a walk near the sea or by a beautiful river or lake.’
So now we are stress free, or at least working towards something that resembles such but are you getting enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps keep your bones, teeth and muscles in good shape. If you do not get enough Vitamin D it can lead to bone issues/pain and in extreme cases rickets and also has been connected to reducing depression. With a lot of people being in various levels of quarantine it is reported that the majority of people are not getting enough Vitamin D (approximately 13% of the population!). Vitamin D is easy to obtain, simply be outside in the sunshine. Experts are unsure exactly how much time you should spend in the sun and we always recommend wearing a suitable sunscreen depending on your environment but being outside and enjoying sunny days have never been better for your body. Other sources of Vitamin D can be oily fish such as Mackerel, Tuna and Sardines. Mushrooms are the only plant based source of Vitamin D.
So the phone is at home and you are outside getting your Serotonin and Vitamin D combo. Awesome. Who better to share it with than the family? According to an article written for NBC in 2018 77 million people in the US went camping and 22% spent $0 on their equipment making camping a very affordable option for the summer vacation. Camping with the family is one of the best possible vacations possible and better yet it is affordable and healthy. There is so much to do, to learn and to teach. Incorporating the older members and the younger members has never been easy. Let Grandpa teach little Billy how to light a fire and collect firewood while you decide where you are going to hike to for the sunset.
After the sunset, a classic camping recipe (see here for our previous tasty camping meals blog) on the open fire and a sing song it is time to hit the hay. But how are you sleeping at the moment? Sleep is incredibly important to a healthy mind and body. This article conducted by the university of Boulder in 2013 states, ‘The more you abide by the sun's schedule the more likely you are to go to bed and wake up at a reasonable time.’ Other added stimulation such as phones, TV’s, computers etc at night are proven to reduce the chances of you getting a good night's sleep. Reading however has been proven to improve your nights sleep. At intervine almost all of us are avid readers and highly recommend using a headlight with a red light option. You can see ours here.
When was the last time you did something new? Something different? Whether you are a camping veteran or it is your 1st time. Camping is always different, a challenge, rewarding. Trying new things is rewarding and makes you be more creative. That can be fixing a tent pole in the middle of the night in the dark or trying to light a fire after you realised you left the matches at home or even as simple as making it to the camp ground after a hike. Whatever category of camper you fall into it is almost guaranteed that you will experience some problems and highly likely you will overcome them. In a world without limits camping brings you back down to earth, makes you thankful for what you have and will leave you feeling like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
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See below for a list of 5 things we never camp without;
Tent - There are some things you can cut corners on, your tent should not be one of them. This is a great home on the move.
Lantern - I have always found a headlamp invaluable camping. Free hands, plenty of light, easy to pack and travel with.
Knife - The Swiss army knife. I NEVER camp or travel without one of these. Multi use, lightweight and built by the Swiss.
Cooler - When things that should be cold get warm it is not a fun time for anyone.
Sleeping bag - There are many different climes and ratings for temperature. We recommend a 3 season to keep you warm most of the year.