Am back in the office, and yes, I survived…..

My wife and I just took our children for the first family camping trip. We decided upon it some time ago and booked this trip with our friends, then bought ourselves a wonderful six man tent and a seemingly endless amount of equipment that ranged from seats, tables, storage units, also cooking appliances, and of course my wife packed bunting and fairy lights.

We also ended up buying a roof box to be able to cart everything around, but it was made much more attractive by my daughter putting love heart stickers on it when I was not looking.

The short version of things is this…. We loved it and we’ll be going again, often. In fact, we did not really want to come home.

We went with close friends of ours and an awesome time was had. The highlights for me were open steak dinners and gourmet burgers, drinking too much gin and local cider, net fishing barefoot in a local river, building my tent knowledge greatly, loads of sunshine, us adults having a handstand competition in the campsite swimming pool, everyone on the site knowing my children’s names by the time we left, much camaraderie with fellow campers, many belly laughs, playing ‘cards against humanity’ until late once the children were asleep, going for long woodland walks and spotting fairies and bunnies, and heck, so much more… As far as we are concerned, it was a triumph.

That was not really the point of me writing about it here though, I was not writing an account of what we did. Instead I wanted to write briefly about why such a trip made us all feel so happy and why similar types of trips can really contribute to one’s own well-being and general levels of happiness. For me, there are six main reasons that such a trip creates so much happiness and I thought I’d share those with you here today…..

1. Human Interaction: We had no internet access (which I’ll refer to in more depth later), were accompanied by great friends who we laughed with non-stop, and there is a real sense of community among fellow campers; everyone says hello, and I stopped and talked to so many other people around the campsite, some we got to know quite well by the end of our time there, and we shared our experiences as well as having a good laugh together.

Community spirit was enhanced by our friends and us cooking together, eating together, playing together and of course creating more laughter together. I have written before on the health benefits of laughter:

The Science of Laughter: Why Laughing is Really Good for Your Health

We are social creatures, and it is really good for us to have social interaction and enjoy the very best of human nature in this way, we derive some deeper emotional sustenance.

Social interaction is so good for us, have a read of this article for more on how and why:

The Health Benefits of Real-Life Social Interaction – Yes, Actually Interacting With Real Humans and Stuff!

2. Fresh air: Being outdoors for most of the day every day means you are getting lots of clean, fresh, country air into the lungs.

We all thrive on oxygen and sometimes breathing good clean air can make us feel so good and alive. So many forms of personal development include breathing as central to what they do and teach. It is made so much easier to breathe in well-being and goodness when the air around you is fresh, clean and lovely.

3. Being In Nature: Our campsite was in the middle of a place of beauty in nature. We took forest walks, telling the children to look out for the woodland fairies, we walked under huge trees, through countryside and visited some local places out in nature too.

We went net fishing at a local river where we stood in the water up to our ankles with our nets looking for small fish. The water was very cold and felt like standing in liquid nitrogen, but it was great fun.

4. Physical Activity: Research has shown that even a 3-minute burst of exercise can help reduce stress levels.

When camping, we engaged in plenty of physical activity. Packing the car, putting up a tent, pumping inflatable air beds and getting set up (and then packed away again at the end) is rigorous physical activity in itself. However, once we had locked up the cars, we didn’t really use them again until we left. Then we were walking to the toilets, going swimming, walking the dog, and heck, walking everywhere instead of driving.

5. Being Around loved ones: In my professional field, we talk about how important it is for therapists to have a good support network to help them deal with stress and avoid burnout. Families and close friends can become a support network without even knowing it. Just being around them and spending quality, enjoyable time is a great tonic. For me, to have that family connection, playing with my children and being with friends that I can be more childlike and playful with was incredibly healthy. On that note, have a read of this article:

How And Why You Need To Be More Playful And Childlike

6. Being Unplugged: We were in the countryside where we had no internet access, no telly, no phone signal; we could have walked to a small section of the park area on the campsite where there was some 3G coverage or you could pay for Wi-fi if you really needed or wanted it, but we chose not to.  We all thrived on real-life human interaction and communicated directly.  We loved making an effort and sought out our own entertainment and fun. The barrage of information to hit me when I got back online this morning was incredible. My business survived 4 days without me, and to be honest not much changed, but so much seems to have happened in the news, no more than usual but definitely highlights how much we are exposed to on an ongoing basis.

So just a brief blog today as I get myself back in the saddle here and get catching up, but was so good for me and my family, we loved it and it was good for us on so many levels.