Can Camping Help Anxiety? | A Definitive Guide


Are you looking for ways to minimize your overall stress and anxiety levels? Maybe you have a big project at work that you want to distance yourself from, or just the daily stressors are weighing you down. Many people wonder how camping can help them reduce their anxiety levels.

Camping helps anxiety by allowing you to unplug from social media and tech while being in nature. You’ll get fresh air, vitamin D as well as an infusion of serotonin. Get better sleep and reconnect with friends or go solo. Activities like gratitude practice and trying something new can help too.

For more examples of how camping can improve anxiety and help you to feel more grounded, this guide will walk you through what to expect from your next camping trip.

How Does Camping Help Anxiety?

Do you have a hard time turning your mind off in your day-to-day life? Camping is a powerful way to eliminate anxiety – even if it’s a temporary fix.

Camping can offer the solution for those who want to combat a busy mind and bodily tension caused by anxiety.

Plenty of research proves how beneficial getting out into nature can be for your mental health. Here are the top ways that camping can minimize your feelings of anxiety quickly and easily.

1. Lower Stress Levels

If you want to tap into natural methods for relieving anxiety, there may be no greater option than to spend a little time in the great outdoors.

According to research and several studies, being in a natural setting like the kind you get at a campground is beneficial for your mental health, including the ability to lower your stress levels and anxiety.

Not to mention, you’ll get some great vitamin D if you go when the weather is nice. People with more vitamin D in their diet (naturally derived from sunlight) tend to have lower anxiety levels.

While you could get more vitamin D in your diet through supplements, camping is a natural way to convert free sunshine into this beneficial vitamin. 

Being in nature is great for your mental and physical health. Don’t discount how powerful this can be when fighting anxiety.

Lower Stress Levels

2. Ability to Unplug

One of the reasons so many people struggle with anxiety is that they all feel like they have to be connected to the grid.

Text messages, Facebook notifications, phone calls, and even emails ping you at all hours of the day and night.

Like most people, you feel the urge to respond to those notifications as soon as they come through. Camping is a great excuse to unplug from technology for a while.

Depending on how remote your campsite is, you may have no choice but to spend the weekend without your phone or laptop.

If your campsite still has Wi-Fi and cell service, it’ll take more self-discipline to ignore the phone. For the best results for your anxiety, simply leave it at home or in the car.

As a bonus, not staring at a screen for a few days can also lower anxiety. Try to find fun activities around the campground and surrounding area instead of staring at the screen or playing video games.

3. Get Away from Social Media

Closely related to unplugging, you’ll want to ensure that you stay off social media for the days you have reserved for camping.

Social media can be a thief of joy, prompting you to compare your situation with friends’ lives.

Unfortunately, we all know how social media can give false perceptions and display only the best in the lives of our friends and family.

When you start to struggle with comparison to other people and anxiety through endless scrolling on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, camping can step in to help you break the cycle.

4. Fresh Air

Anxiety can sometimes worsen if you suffer from a lack of oxygen.

While you could take a few deep breaths from the comfort of your office chair, there’s nothing better than getting pure oxygen at the source: trees and plants.

Camping allows you to immerse yourself in all of the benefits of the forest or mountains, and this often means that you can inhale fresh air that isn’t as polluted as you’ll find in the city.

Your body will thank you for giving it a bit of “breathing room” by lowering your anxiety and stress levels.

To compound the effects of fresh air on your anxiety levels, consider doing breathing exercises to ground you in the moment.

5. Find Enjoyment

Pressing pause on your daily life can be a real challenge in a busy culture. Camping gives you the absolute freedom you need to explore the world around you.

Think about what you would most like to do with your downtime: hiking, fishing, taking a nap, sketching the view over the pond.

No matter what your favorite pastime is, you can enjoy it at your leisure while camping. This is your time to reset and recharge, so do what fills up your metaphorical bucket.

Your anxiety levels will thank you for tending to the needs of both your body and mind.

6. Improved Serotonin Levels

To understand the effect camping has on anxiety, it’s crucial to look at it from a biological and chemical standpoint. Your brain needs serotonin to allow you to experience happiness to the fullest.

If you engage in activities that you love while camping (or just go camping for the sake of camping), your brain produces more serotonin and contributes to improved levels of happiness.

The result of increased serotonin isn’t just your overall happiness though. It also makes it easier for you to have mental clarity.

If you need to make some important decisions, going camping is a great way to think more clearly about what needs to happen next.

Improved Serotonin Levels

7. Get Away for a While

A perk to camping during the off-season is that you can truly have alone time. For many people, this is something they look forward to and sorely lacking in their daily lives.

You might need this space to lower your anxiety levels and reset your mind. If you choose to go camping in the busy season, look for more secluded campsites so that you still get the feeling of being alone.

This is a great time to realign your priorities. Think about where your life is right now and where you’d like to go.

Be intentional about setting goals and achieving more for yourself when you return to your daily grind. You can bring some of this positivity back, lowering your anxiety for a little while.

If you struggle with anxiety around people, this is a way for you to finally escape for a little while. Plus, you get all the other benefits, like being in nature, unplugging, and boosting serotonin levels.

8. Reconnect

Of course, some people don’t necessarily need to get away to have time to themselves. Traveling is often a way to connect with friends and family that you may not have the chance to see as often as you’d like.

Plan a getaway with your favorite people and spend that time focused on building relationships. You’ll make great memories with your closest circle, but this connection also benefits your anxiety.

Connection can lessen stress and allow you to feel seen and heard by others. The result is a powerful calming effect on your mind and nervous system. 

9. Better Sleep

For many campers, their first thought isn’t that they’ll get better sleep inside a tent, but it just might be true!

Your body is primed for sleep when you get rid of the bright blue light of your screens and when you reset your body’s natural circadian rhythm with the sun.

Active campers will be physically tired at the end of a long activity day.

Even if you prefer to lounge around, you may want to consider going for a long walk to wear the body out so that you can rest easier.

Camping can help you get better quality sleep, which many people with anxiety are sorely lacking.

If you want to press pause on your thoughts and drift peacefully into slumber, provide as many creature comforts for yourself as possible.

For example, you may want to bring an air mattress, a warm sleeping bag, and your favorite pillow.

10. Try Something New

Often, anxiety holds you back from doing and trying things that genuinely interest you. Whether you go camping solo or with a group, you might want to consider what activities sound the most fun to you.

This is a great time to branch out and try something new, like paddle boarding or kayaking. Breaking out of the norm can do wonders for your anxiety.

Think carefully about what your goals are for your trip. If having fun is one of them, consider enlisting the help of a friend to hold you accountable for trying at least one new thing that makes you nervous.

Once you prove to yourself that you can do it, you’ll discover that there are tons of other things you can conquer that you’ve been dying to try.

It boosts your confidence and silences that nagging voice in your head that says you can’t do it. 

11. Be More Present

When you struggle with anxiety, the odds are that you have difficulty staying in the present moment.

You’re so caught up in what could happen that you cannot enjoy the little moments that could bring happiness daily. Camping is a great way for you to appreciate those moments.

Without distractions, you can enjoy small accomplishments like tent pitching, starting a fire, or cooking your meals.

Practice your survival skills and see how much enjoyment it brings you to know that you can rely on yourself.

Make sure to bring your attention back to the moment whenever it starts to wander to what comes next.

This is a great way to keep your focus on what you’re doing here and now, silencing that nagging voice of anxiety for good.

Be More Present

12. Improve Energy Levels

Anxiety can sap you of your energy levels. Whether you’re spending too much time worrying or just can’t sleep at night, anxiety is problematic for getting everything you want to accomplish in a given day.

Spending time outdoors and doing activities that get your blood pumping are great ways to regain some of that energy.

Camping is a great way to bolster yourself physically if you feel that your energy levels are low and you are always tired.

Nature improves your mental clarity, but exercise rids the body of tension that worsens anxiety.

13. Creativity

Are you struggling to come up with solutions to your daily anxiety? Maybe you’re spending all your time thinking about making a career change or improving your finances.

It doesn’t matter what type of problem is causing you to be anxious. Camping can break the cycle and free you from a creative rut.

Changing your scenery for a few days makes your brain less likely to get stuck in the old thought patterns you’ve been fighting.

Creativity often strikes while camping because you’re doing other activities that nourish you instead of just becoming fixated on a problem.

As a bonus, you’ll have plenty of quiet space to think and plan for the future when you’re out in nature. 

14. Gratitude

One powerful way to fight anxiety is through gratitude practice. Break free from your routine, and you’ll find that you have many things to be thankful for.

Appreciate what the woods are like this time of year or how it feels to wake up naturally to the trill of the birds calling overhead. Be intentional about listing the things you love about this moment.

If you really want to tap into your gratitude practice, you can bring a notebook with you to jot down the things that mean the most to you. It’s a great list to reflect on when you return to your busy daily life.

Don’t take the little things for granted.

You can fight anxiety by noticing the small things: the way the sun filters through the trees, how sweet s’mores taste, and how incredibly joyful you feel to be among friends at a large camping party.

Nothing is too small to make it onto your gratitude list!

Final Thoughts

Camping is a great outlet for anxiety if you want to feel calmer and more positive overall.

There are plenty of options that can help you to unwind and unplug whether that means spending time solo or with a group of your closest friends.

Consider which activities will be the right fit to get the most out of your camping excursion!

Shailen Vandeyar

A camping geek who loves to watch sitcoms and plant trees when not out in the woods, exploring the infinite beauty of mother nature.

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