With each passing day, our lives continue to move with speed — and, by not stopping once in a while to take in the great outdoors, we miss out on opportunities to see life and the world through different perspectives.
In the outdoors, we can breathe deeply and briefly let go of our endless obligations. Our body, minds and soul yearn for it, whether we choose to simply spend time in our backyard, stroll through a park, or set off on a weekend backpacking trip.
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But if planning your next outdoor getaway isn’t at the top of your priority list just yet, here are five reasons to motivate you to get outside.
1. Seek Out Bonding and Camaraderie
"Happiness is only real when shared." This famous quote from the 2007 film Into the Wild expresses how exploring and enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors brings about true happiness, particularly when you have someone with whom to experience it.
Camping, backpacking, hiking, fishing, lying in a hammock — all of these outdoor activities create bonds among friends, memories for families, and special moments in relationships. Of course, solitude has its place in nature, but experiencing the tranquility of it all with those we hold dear soothes the soul.
Moreover, spending time in nature can provide you with stress-relieving rejuvenation, while spending time with friends and family often leads to joy and comfort. Together, when both elements are part of the equation, you're adding meaning to your life and enriching your overall health.
2. Pack Healthy Campfire Fare
The camping experience is all about eating good food just as much as enjoying some good times and laughs. In fact, you and your family or friends might typically enjoy:
• Cooking hot dogs, brats and bacon cooking over a fire
• Enjoying beer for drinking games or plain-old enjoyment
• Chowing down on various flavors of chips
• Roasting gooey s'mores for dessert
Good campfire food can also be deliciously good for you. With a little recipe research and preparation, you can indulge without the guilt, yet keep the charm of camping. To enjoy meals you would typically have at the comfort of your home, consider packing some of these foil-wrapped recipes:
• Chicken with chopped fruits and veggies
• Cilantro lime shrimp and corn on the cob
• Lemon salmon, zucchini and asparagus
Meantime, some good cast-iron recipes include:
• Roasted chicken and Brussels sprouts
• Sweet potato breakfast hash
• Mushrooms and wild rice
• Fireside fajitas
Of course, you can't forget about snacks to tide you over, including:
• Nuts, oats and dried fruit granola
• Veggies with hummus, guacamole or Greek yogurt herb dip
• No-bake protein or energy balls
• Edamame and hardboiled eggs
3. Seek Adventure
The everyday monotony and stress of our work life, family routine and household responsibilities wear us down from time to time. Office walls can close us in much like prison cells, and even our homes seem to shrink over time with added clutter. But one way to break free of it all is to escape to the outdoors for adventure — either off road or on foot.
Off-roading and backpacking are two ways to become intrepid in nature. Once you invest in the right off-roading essentials (like appropriate vehicle tires, a toe strap, suspension and winch), you can handle any type of tough terrain on four wheels. While backpacking, you'll need to pack some solid gear, including a backpack, water filter, hiking boots and sleeping bag. Indeed, taking part in some outdoor adventures here and there may be just the antidote you need to reboot and enjoy your outdoorsy side.
4. Detach and Disconnect
Did you know a majority of Americans spend five hours a day on their smartphones? Whether we enjoy this screen time at the kitchen table or inside a coffee shop, many of us spend more time with our head down and eyes locked on these devices when our attention and focus should be elsewhere.
With that in mind, make it a point to occasionally put down your smartphone and use the outdoors as a chance to ditch technology (this includes taking photos), enjoy nature and live in the moment without any digital distractions. While there is certainly no Wi-Fi in the forest, you'll ultimately find a stronger, better connection while being one with nature.
5. Venture to Find Meaning
Chasing happiness seems to be a perpetual pursuit in our lives. We hope work, relationships, hobbies and passions can make us happy. Yet, research indicates pursuing meaning in our lives, rather than pleasure and enjoyment, can actually lead to a deeper and more lasting form of well-being.
Indeed, the calmness of nature creates a serene, meditative environment in which you can discover how to invest in something bigger than yourself. How can you help others and strengthen your relationships? What’s your life's purpose, and how do you ultimately matter in this crazy world?
No matter our surroundings, these are important questions to routinely ask ourselves and consider. Yet, ultimately, there’s no better place than spending time in nature that allows us to explore a more meaningful, vibrant part of life.
Abby Terlecki is a marketing copywriter for a university in Phoenix, Arizona. At 5 o’clock, Abby heads to happy hour at her CrossFit gym to hang out at her favorite bar. In between writing and lifting, She explores the Grand Canyon state and enjoys the outdoors. She earned her journalism degree from Ohio University and has since made the desert her happy home.