Take a deep breath in, breathe out, and relax
Flinders range
Flinders Ranges, South Australia (Photo: Jim McCool)

Slow Camping is all about taking it easy, about taking a pause from the hustle and bustle of our hectic (online) lives and getting out into nature and getting ourselves into a different, more tranquil (head) space. It’s about giving some respect to the spirit of this ancient and timeless land. As the Indigenous writer Vicky Shukuroglou points out in her very moving introduction to Loving Country, a Guide to Sacred Australia:

I hope your explorations of this great land, its ancient stories and its diverse people will enrich your conversations with yourself, your loved ones and those you are yet to meet, all strongly held by this loving country.

Pascoe, B., and Shukuroglou, V., Loving Country, A Guide to Sacred Australia, Hardie Grant, 2020.p. xi)

There is literally no need to rush. We’re not in a race.

On Slow Camping you’re welcome to come and learn with us as we traverse the mighty continent of Australia, working our way through the incredible variety of landscapes and through some of the amazing ecosystems that this beautiful land has to offer.

Myall Lakes NP
Myall Lakes NP

So, why does it feel so good to take a break from our screens, leave the digital world behind, and go slow camping? Well, it appears that there’s actually a lot of science behind it. Recent academic studies have shown the medical benefits of getting closer to the natural world and detail how this can have positive effects on many aspects of health, including relief from stress.

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.

Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.

University of Minnesota

A break in the bush can, in fact do us the world of good. It’s not just the need to escape from the pressures of 24/7 news cycles, the temptation to endlessly ‘doom-scroll’, and the sensational nature of much media coverage, for the good of our mental health. It is also the need to get away from our screens for our own physical well-being.

These studies have shown that time in nature — as long as people feel safe — is an antidote for stress: It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Attention Deficit Disorder and aggression lessen in natural environments, which also help speed the rate of healing. In a recent study, psychiatric unit researchers found that being in nature reduced feelings of isolation, promoted calm, and lifted mood among patients.

Yale School of the Environment

There is also one very particular way in which getting out into nature can be beneficial. Constantly peering at a monitor or a laptop screen, as so many of us do in our professional lives, can have very negative effects on our eyesight. Many people noticed that their eyesight suffered during the Covid pandemic because they weren’t getting outside.

People are suffering from fatigue and ocular dryness because of too much screen-time from working at home or taking online classes all day long.

CBS, How COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people’s eyesight

We actually need to get out into nature and get a wider view of things. Looking at landscapes, looking at broad horizons, quite literally does us good.