Vacation time is a valuable resource that far too many employees fail to use. It’s worthwhile to take some time for yourself away from work when you can rest and rejuvenate. According to some great American writers, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and David Thoreau, a vacation in the woods is exactly what everyone should have.
In fact, increasing numbers of physicians are encouraging patients to participate in “forest bathing,” the practice of spending a couple of days in the woods for mental and emotional healing. There are even forest therapists who guide therapy sessions in the woods professionally because the practice is expected to facilitate quicker healing.
Over time, medical research has repeatedly shown the positive effects of spending time in nature on your psyche. If you’re stressed from work, family troubles, or other pressures, a stint in the great outdoors could be just what the doctor ordered.
Here are some benefits of a wooded vacation, should you choose to take one.
1. Stress Relief
Current research shows that more than half of dedicated employees experience extreme stress in their day-to-day lives. It stems from a variety of causes, but whatever the source, stress can be seriously debilitating if it’s not addressed.
For the chronically stressed worker, time in nature is one of the best solutions. Research on forest therapy indicated that people who spent just 20 minutes looking at pictures of forest scenery had a 13 percent decrease in cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone.
Imagine what spending an entire weekend in the actual woods could do for you!
2. Return to Simplicity
Our lives are fairly complex. We have jobs, family obligations, illnesses, homes, and possibly many other responsibilities.
We’re also constantly using technology, which complicates our lives even further. The ability to call, text, email, or video chat with anyone at a moment’s notice can create undue stress, especially if they’re constantly trying to contact you when you are too busy or simply don’t wish to talk to them.
A vacation in the woods provides a return to simplicity. No longer are we swamped by obligations, and cell phone service may not be available out there, even if you’re staying in a luxury cabin in the woods. It’s just you, nature, and your thoughts, which can be healing for the mind and soul.
3. Fresh Air
City air is more polluted than you might know. Although air pollution has improved in many U.S. cities since the 1960s, it’s still a substantial problem.
Breathing polluted air can create respiratory concerns such as asthma and allergies. It also limits the amount of good oxygen that reaches your brain, so you might be thinking less clearly.
Trees have a powerful capability for turning polluted air into fresh, clean oxygen, which makes forests and parks places of utter rejuvenation. Resting during a vacation in the woods with fresh, non-polluted air can literally clear your head: The oxygen will flow to your brain unrestrained, and you may well enjoy more creative thinking as well as stress relief.
4. Mental Health Boost
Time in the woods can improve your mental health in multiple ways. Research reveals that being outside for just 30 minutes a day can improve memory and combat depression.
When the sun’s rays hit your skin, your body creates vitamin D, an essential vitamin that minimizes depressed feelings. Further research shows that going for an outdoor walk will improve your mood for a full seven hours afterward.
Thus, a weekend in the woods can improve your mental health for weeks or even months thereafter. Any vacation is good for your mental health, and if it’s outdoors, you’ll see further benefits.
5. Natural Exercise
When you’re working in an office, hunched over a desk, it’s easy to neglect opportunities to exercise. Physical fitness ceases to be a top priority when you’re overcome by the stresses of your everyday job.
A vacation in the woods is perfect if you need exercise but hate the treadmill. It feels completely natural to go for a hike or explore the woods on foot. You’ll be so focused on the glorious scenery, you’ll get your necessary exercise without realizing it.
6. Improved Physical Health
Nothing beats the physical stimulation of being outdoors. Numerous physical health benefits come from spending time in the woods, not the least of which is potential cancer prevention.
Preliminary studies show an increase of anti-cancer proteins in the body for individuals who spend a great deal of time outdoors. So it will boost your chances of fighting cancerous cells (especially if you’re wearing sunscreen, so you don’t encourage cancer).
studies have shown the potential to boost your immune system, lower blood
pressure, strengthen vision, reduce fatigue, cut inflammation, and achieve
overall good health. The natural exercise and fresh air can do wonders for our