Has finding time to unwind been stressing you out? You’re not alone. Research from the Australian Psychological Society shows that maintaining wellbeing is one of our top five stressors. The sound of an alarm on your mindfulness app doesn’t feel Zen. So what is the answer? It turns out that your parents were ahead of their time, scientifically speaking, when they told you to “turn that off and go play outside.”
Wellness + human being = Well being
Disconnecting from tech turns on healing parts of your brain, explains Manoush Zomorodi in Bored and Brilliant. You’ll feel better with some downtime and you can supercharge the effects outdoors. The natural world is full of invisible good things called negatively charged ions. These molecules fast track your brain into a mood boosted state of relaxation. Exposure to them has a significant effect on decreasing depression. Melt away stress with sensory wonders like sitting under a waterfall, swimming in a wild waterhole or looking at star-filled skies. Nature is a remedy that takes your head out of the virtual clouds and puts it back in your body.
Nature doesn’t get much better than this. The sights, sounds and scents of a coastal campground give your brain plenty of space to recharge. Myall Lakes National Park is a wealth of sensory wonders and just three hours from Sydney near the beautiful Hawks Nest. At Banksia Green campground, you can fall asleep to the sound of dingoes howling and waves crashing. Wake to salt air and dig your toes in the sand (take care, the beach is not patrolled – read up on water safety).
Safety tip: Keep wildlife wild for their health and your safety. Don’t feed or approach native animals and make sure you store all rubbish out of reach. Learn more about animal safety.
Information overload can be cured
Your brain and body are still much like your primitive ancestors, yet in fifty years the amount of information we process has increased by more than three times. It isn’t surprising you feel overwhelmed. Nature gives your brain a break. In his book Claim your Wildness, Dr Higgins explains that time in nature kicks off neural pathways for daydreaming. You notice things without effort and enter a state of wakeful relaxation. This is the off-switch you’ve been looking for that leads to that elusive sense of wellbeing.
Ease into the natural world with a short one hour trip from Sydney. This large campground is popular with the local kangaroos and located fifteen minutes from Glenbrook. Rest under the gum trees or at wild swimming holes. Blue Pool is a ten-minute drive from camp and a short 1km return walk. Wild swimming is a bit different to your local pool – be sure to learn more about water safety before you go. For a change of scenery wander along the Nepean River walking track with a beautiful 1.8km loop passing through canyons and rainforests.
Level up your relationships by going outside
As an added bonus a stint in nature can improve relationships. We connect on a deeper level with others by turning off the tech. Nature enhances empathy and is a great equaliser. We realise we are all human and no one can move a mountain or change the tides. Social comparisons slip away. People bond without the interrupting chimes of phones. You will return home with a heart more fully connected to others.
Even the wallabies and wombats get in on the communal action at Newnes. Three hours from Sydney, about an hour past Lithgow, you can soak up conversation by the river. At dawn and dusk the wallabies come by to see what’s new. Visit Tom at the Newnes Hotel for directions to the Glow Worm Tunnel or local ruins. Don’t get too excited – it’s a pub with no beer! Remember: don’t approach or feed the wildlife, and take care not to disturb those delicate glow worms. Learn more about animal safety.
A short weekend away will do wonders for your health
A weekend of camping consists of life’s simple things. A place to sleep, an esky, and a gas burner. Borrow them from a friend, rent them from CampNow or visit Camplify and hire a nearby van. Pick a spot, grab some food and water and hit the road. Your brain will thank you. Research tells us that the health benefits of a short stint in the wild have lasting effects.