I’m a mom. As such, my normal daily schedule looks a bit like this:
I know many others have schedules that are far crazier than mine, but it’s clear that we have a lot to keep us occupied during the day. Activity-packed days turn into weeks, which turn into months, and suddenly we feel like our days are repeating themselves—Groundhog Day style. We don’t get enough sleep. We don’t eat as well as we should. We cut corners where we can to make everything fit into the schedule. By the time the weekend rolls around, we’re exhausted—and for good reason! We look forward to vacations to “catch-up,” but how many times have you found yourself saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation” when you return?
Let’s face it: We need a break. Our families need a break.
But how do we find time for a break—a really refreshing break?
What most of us forget is that we have a great way to take a break right in front of us: The great outdoors!
Having trouble sleeping?
Current Biology did a study (reported by Fox News) that camping can result in a break from the unnatural circadian rhythms caused by modern life. According to Kenneth Wright, who led the study, “By increasing our exposure to sunlight and reducing our exposure to electrical lighting at night, we can turn our internal clock and sleep times back and likely make it easier to awaken and be alert in the morning.” It took less than a week of camping for study participants to feel less groggy in the morning. Even if a camping trip isn’t in your future, spending more time outside during the day and reducing exposure to artificial light in the evenings can produce results. Starting your day with a walk outside can jumpstart your circadian rhythm.
Just being outside can act as a stress break. In a Landscape and Urban Planning study reported in Prevention, scientists measured the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 25 healthy adults in Scotland and discovered that participants living where green space was in abundance had lower cortisol levels and fewer complaints of stress. If you think this means you have to move to the country, there’s good news. Environmental Science & Technology reported that people showed improved mood and self-esteem after only five minutes of light exercise outdoors.
Life’s routines and never-ending to-do list too much for you?
When things feel hectic at home, I find myself yearning for the routine break of a camping trip. Yes, we still have to set-up the campsite, make food, etc. However, doing these things away from home is a nice change of routine. When we’re camping, I’m not thinking about the laundry that needs to get washed, the bills that need to be paid, or the vet appointment I need to make for the dog. I talk with my family around the campfire, go for walks in the woods, and play games at the picnic table. For that brief time, I relax.
Next time things feel hectic and you notice you’re not sleeping well, stressed, or overwhelmed with life, take my advice and get outside. No, time spent outside won’t get those bills paid, but my guess is that you’ll return to those tasks with more focus and a renewed spirit.
How do you take a break from daily life?