We often see people arrive at reception with a slightly wild look in their eyes, they have driven to Fforest Fields after setting their ‘out of office’, rushing around their home trying to find all the bits and bobs they want to take and have bundled children, dogs, sleeping mats, cooking gear and know they have quite possibly forgotten tent pegs and their trusty bottle oppener. They know it’s time to relax but they are not quite there yet. The next day after an evening around the campfire and a deep sleep under canvas they often emerge with a smile on their face.
Here are some reasons we think that camping in mid Wales makes you happier.
Many of us spend a large proportion of our time indoors, or when we’re not at our desk or in our jobs we are walking around city streets where the air is tainted with the fumes of day to day life in towns and cities. Breathing in clean, fresh air provides and instant boost. The smell of pine trees decreases stress and increases relaxation, the smell of freshly cut grass can transport us instantly back to our childhood and while rain may seem like a bore, the smell of rain on earth reminds has been proven to remind us of growth of plans and animals, making us feel more human and making our day to day problems seem much further away and insignificant.
Even the most relaxing of camping trips involves physical activity—probably more than a typical day at home or work. Taking a short hike, setting up your tent, or doing anything that makes you break a sweat releases endorphins that help you feel good.
OK, OK we won’t get too mushy here but camping is a wonderful way to reconect with your partner, family or friends – or, simply, yourself. The pace, the crackling logs on the fire, the relaxing feeling of letting go of the stresses of everyday life and just enjoying each others company can be deeply powerful and healing. While camping brings its own list of trials and tribulations, the fact that you are in it together and it is far removed from the normality of every day life reminds you of the connections you have with others.
Following on from ‘lurve’, there is teamwork. A successful camping trip with your clan, friends or other half pivots on working together. There is something called Hive Psychology, which explores how happiness is connect with being part of a greater whole, and how these needs may be rooted in evolutionary instincts. Jonathan Haidt, who has pondered the hypothisis says:
“The most effective moral communities – from a well-being perspective – are those that offer occasional experiences in which self-consciousness is greatly reduced and one feels merged with or part of something greater than the self.”
So having washing up duty or collecting a round of hot drinks from the cafe for the crew after a long walk on the hill makes you feel part of something bigger. We also often talk about ‘camping as a community’, that here in the depths of mid Wales we are all in it together – so respecting your neighbours, helping out when a tent is struggling in a gust of wind or even mopping up the shower after yourself for the next person can make you feel happy!
We ask that campers are quiet on site after 10.30pm, not because we are bossy but because we truly value the idea of a great nights sleep at Fforest Fields. Fresh air, hikes onto the hill, honeypot making sessions on the lake followed by sitting round a campfire stuffing your face with good food and chatting with your friends can make you wonderfully sleepy. Being outside in natural light can also help reset your body clock, no bright screens or overhead lights as the night draws in you really do notice it. As people drift off to bed the campsite becomes wonderfully quiet, apart from the occassional hoot of an owl or fox in the wood. Sleep is something we do very well at Fforest Fields!
There has been lots of research around the benefits of getting a good amount of sleep and we all know the findings, even though we so often don’t abide them. Recent studies from the University of Birmingham have shown that lack of sleep can compromise your ability to rationalise worries or issues. It can lead to repative negative thoughts that will impeede your thinking and happiness. An adult should get between 7-9 hrs of sleep, and we will certainly do everything we can to help you get that here at Fforest Fields.
Ah, Vitamin D. We often simply do not get enough Vitamin D in our daily lives. Natural light, and lots of it, makes people happier—even on shorter, cloudier days in winter. There is lots of ongoing research on the benfits of Vitamin D, from bone health through to helping people overcome depression and much in between. Giving your body a natural dose of Vitamin D through sunlight has been linked with increased dopamine levels in the brain. Beyond the sciency stuff, it just feels great to be out and about in the elements.
Getting away from it all…
It is very easy for us to become tangled up in our daily problems and woes that we forget to stand back and smell the coffee. When walking in nature, or standing underneath a starlit sky it can be an extraordinarily powerful leveler, making us realise that we are not our problems, they are instead things that we are dealing with. Fresh air, being with your family, laughing at appreciating the small stuff can have a deep and profound impact on us and make us feel like the world will go on – inspite of our concerns. Walking up through the woods and out onto the open hill at Fforest Fields, washing your face in the cool water that tumbles down a waterfall or testing your hiking boots out on a steep climb, running along the jetty and jumping into the lake or creating a fire and roasting marshmallows really does help you escape your worries and feel free.
We’re getting a bit deep and meaningful right, ok – let’s take it back to practicalities. Getting back to basics is a fantastic way to feel happiness. Ridding yourself of the relative clutter of home and setting up your own shelter, making your own fire to cook and only having the key basics with you is wonderfully freeing. In James Wallman’s book Suffocation – Living More with Less he argues that happiness comes not from possessions, but from shared experiences. Simplifying your weekend by getting out into the great outdoors and focusing more on experiences than the things you have is a great way to feel happier.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on feeling happier when camping. Do feel free to post comments below.