Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Today’s post comes from Connor Oke, Marketing Intern for Ontario Parks.

We live in a world that demands a lot from us.

Canadians work overtime at higher rates than 25 years ago. At the same time, we spend more hours in front of screens and on social media, which is related to greater anxiety and distraction. We also sleep less than 15 years ago.

Woman sitting on a rock at the lake

The natural world is a refuge from the rush of everyday life. Spending time outdoors helps us de-stress and keeps us healthy. One of the ways it does this is by helping us slow down, take it easy, and appreciate the simple things in life.

Here are four ways camping helps us achieve this:

1. Living in “camp time”

“We’re in camp time.”

How many times have you said this on your camping trips over the years?

A couple reading newspapers

It’s true: one of the best parts of camping is the ability to live without schedules. You can sleep a little more than usual to recharge, or even just sit for a couple of hours, drinking coffee and watching the water.

You don’t need to be anywhere else.

Two girls lying on a blanket with a dog

While living on a schedule is a good way to manage stress in a busy life, not needing it for a while at camp can be even better. In fact, living “camp time” and being outdoors is linked to better sleep and reduced stress.

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Forget about your emails for a while and enjoy your stay.

2. Reconnect with friends and family

When life gets busy, it’s easy to put our relationships on the back burner. But when you’re camping, sitting around the fire toasting marshmallows, the only thing that matters is that you’re together.

Family in a canoe on Algonquin Lake

For many, camping trips are a source of cherished memories with friends and family.

There is that special place where they learned to fish with mom. Or there’s the beach where Dad took them to build sandcastles.

Boy holding a fish (and wearing cool sunglasses)

According to evidence, social connections with friends and family are a vital part of staying healthy. In fact, they are as important to your long-term health as avoiding smoking and eating well.

3. Linger over a good meal

Eating slowly has many benefits, including simply enjoying your food more. You will be able to savor every bite, talk with friends and relax.

Shot of Ariel preparing a meal at night.

Consider this: While our obligations may force us to rely on fast, convenience foods, camping offers us the opportunity to take the time to cook and share a meal with others.

Cooking over a campfire or barbecue is a longer, but more conscious process. It turns what is normally a job into a fun activity and an opportunity to enjoy a meal that you prepared yourself and to share.

a meal cooked on the campfire

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite recipes from our own camping trips, including a Hearty Winter Chili, a Grilled Fall Salad with Ribeye Steak, and a Campfire Trout Recipe.

4. Discovery to be discovered

Not all learning needs to have a practical application. For many, learning is a reward in itself. And after all, what better place to learn about the outdoors than by going there yourself?

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Healthy parks healthy people

The Ontario Parks Discovery Program is designed to inspire in children a love of learning about nature that will last the rest of their lives.

But learning and playing are important for adults too. It keeps our brain active and functioning, inspires creativity and just makes us feel good.

Group of adults with large cameras.

Discovering new things simply because it’s fun is a great way to reconnect with the joy of learning.

So take it easy for a while.

Spending time outdoors is a fantastic way to stay healthy. It is also an opportunity to reconnect with what is important in life: friends and family, enjoying the simple things and learning new things.

People have known this for hundreds of years. In 1854, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his book Walden“I went to the forest because I wanted to live deliberately, to face only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what she had to teach me, and not, when I died, discover that I had not done so.” vivid.”