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camping beach

This weekend’s camping trip confirmed my love/hate relationship with camping.

LOVE: sleeping close to the ground, waking up to chirping birds, feeling self-sufficient, making campfires, eating trail mix, relaxing in the late afternoon sunshine, experiencing the independence it brings out in my kids, being around fantastic, like-minded people, having easy access to amazing natural beauty (in this weekend’s case, the beach), wearing bright colors, UNPLUGGING

HATE: eating out of a cooler, finding dirt in my sleeping bag, finding dirt in my pockets, finding dirt in my food, finding dirt behind my ears, shivering in the morning, using communal toilets, seeing one too many raccoons, dealing with SO MUCH GEAR (although Sean deals with it, so this shouldn’t really be on this list)

Thankfully — both because Sean has a love/love relationship with camping and because it’s Earth Day today — the LOVE list is longer than the HATE list.  Yes, we will indeed camp again, and I can now refer to this list whenever I’m feeling cranky about the cold and the dirt.  And while all of the things on the LOVE list are important to me, the one that’s extra special because it’s hardest for me to achieve in my normal (electricity + running water filled) life is the ability to unplug.

I didn’t open my computer (and minimally used my phone) from noon Friday until this morning, and it felt purifying and empowering.  I know this is a ridiculous thing to be so proud of — 2.5 days sans computer — but the reality is, it rarely happens.  And even in a short time, it’s amazing how connected I felt to my family and how much I didn’t even miss my steady information diet.

I did a bit of research about unplugged weekends this morning, and found out there is actually a National Day of Unplugging.  I’m sure I was surfing some random website during this year’s celebration, but I’m marking my calendar for next year’s shebang, March 7-8, 2014.  I also found a good article published on making a pretty good case for unplugging.  It’s no surprise, but here are five reasons to steer clear of screens.  They…

  • Limit Ability to Pay Attention: Called “popcorn brain,” chronic Internet users often report having a tougher time focusing and tuning out irrelevant material
  • Increase Stress: This is more for heavy social media users suffering from the evil comparison that social media usage can provoke  
  • Disrupt Sleep: Screens actually emit a blue wavelength of light that tricks the brain into thinking it’s time to be alert…yet 95% of Americans report using some sort of screen in the hour before bed
  • Stunt Creativity: Screen-free time in nature has been shown to boost creativity though.  All the most reason to turn off the screen get outside!
  • Hurt: Yes, sitting is killing us slowly

I opened my trusty MacBook Pro this morning feeling bright-eyed and clear-headed, not anxious or already behind.  Pretty good ROI for just 2.5 days off.  Now the challenge is to make this happen whether I’m sleeping in the wilderness on the weekends or not!

How do you unplug?  Do you notice real emotional and physical changes when you get away from your screens and out into nature?   

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. YES, I do notice changes and I love it when, as a family, we all unplug. We did this on our New Zealand trip (not entirely, but for the most part), and it was a lovely respite from every day life.

    April 22, 2013
  2. Glad to know that we also share a tortured relationship with camping – it was great running with you!

    April 22, 2013
    • i thought for sure that i was the only one in that crowd that wasn’t a born camper. misery loves company. 🙂

      April 22, 2013

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