Have you ever seen a couple of guys dragging a massive backpack in the middle of nowhere and thought to yourself—how on earth can that be a fun activity?
Fortunately, there’s much more to it. It’s the connection with nature that makes me return each chance that I get. It’s no coincidence that this website is called Link To Nature. So let me tell you a personal story of how nature made me feel completely at peace.
It was the year 2019, school was over and me and my dad went on a backpacking trip to somewhere in Spain. After only three or four days of not being in a city, I noticed an obvious shift in my conscience, as if I was cleansed of mental garbage such as stress and worries. I changed from the quiet guy to the funny guy, the guy who would smile all day long and talk surprisingly much—I was high on nature.
But it didn’t stop there. Another thing that got high was my passion for music. I would listen to music that would normally bore me, but now it felt more intense and captivating than it ever was. I could vibe to it for hours while just looking at the stars—because yes, you have those in nature.
I know that only a minority of people are as addicted to the wilderness as I am. Perhaps you’re not, and if that is true, I will certainly do my best in convincing you to visit raw nature at least once in your life, because you don’t have the faintest idea of how it could improve your life. So let us start with why I believe people like to backpack in the wilderness and what kind of benefits are involved.
You meet the real you
Many people shape themselves according to the expectations of other people. Everyone wants to be accepted and appreciated, but that can lead to an unnatural you. Did they like my response? What should I have said? Do they like me?… These are the questions many people ask themselves after social interactions, and it can cause you not to behave like the real you.
What’s even worse is that you can’t meet everyone’s expectations, and trying will only make you frustrated, depressed and insecure.
In nature, there’s no one expecting anything from you. The animals of the forest won’t judge your behavior or appearance, and that gives you the opportunity to remove your mask and show the real you.
Nature is a cure for depression
We all originate from nature, and over time we all become more and more, what I like to call, denatured. And very coincidentally, the suicide rate continues to rise. People are getting more and more depressed, and I’m sure that if we all lived in nature, our world would be a much better place. It has been proven that being in nature or simply looking at an image of nature reduces anger, fear and stress while increasing pleasant feelings. Moreover, it reduces your blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
And guess what increases when you look at an image of urban scenes… stress, fear and anxiety, the three things that we should avoid.
It keeps you fit and healthy
Carrying a heavy backpack wherever you go improves your muscle strength and is one of the best ways to burn calories. What’s more, you’ll breathe in clean, unpolluted air all the time, for which your lungs will thank you.
Did you know that nature makes you smarter?
It’s proven: nature increases your memory performance and can increase your ability to concentrate. I can agree with this statement based on personal experience. I’m currently staying with my grandmother who lives on the edge of a large forest, and I have to admit that my concentration is on point today. I write crazy fast, I’m focused and find it much easier to find the right words. It’s certainly a big difference from when I’m at home—in the city.
Nature helps you cope with pain
This has been proven by a study of patients who have undergone surgery. Half of them had a view of trees, while the other half had a view of a wall. The group that enjoyed the trees tolerated the pain better and spent less time in the hospital.
Nature is a great place to make friends
Have you ever wondered why people are so friendly in nature? Seriously, how many bad encounters did you have in nature? The University of Illinois has found an answer to this question. It’s because people surrounded by nature have stronger feelings of unity with other people, are more concerned with helping and supporting each other and have stronger feelings of belonging.
Do you know who made backpacking popular? That’s right, the1960’s hippies, and what words would you use to describe their motto? I would say love, peace, unity, joy and respect, and these guys were surrounded by nature. Do you think this is a coincidence? Or is there another explanation? Let me know in the comments.
It’s a cheap type of vacation
Food, water, some gear and a tent is all you need, making it a very cheap form of vacation. It may look expensive if you buy quality items, but you have to take into account that quality items are very durable. So you should see it more as an investment than as a purchase. It can even be cheaper than living at home because you don’t use electricity, water or heating. So if you’re looking for a cheap getaway, backpacking through the wilderness is definitely a good idea.
For information on why quality equipment is so expensive, please see my other article. I also share some of my favorite tactics to get your stuff cheaper.
You escape the rat race
I’m sure you have heard about the rat race, also known as the casual 9-5 job. It’s all about wealth and power, and many people find this awfully depressing.
Living in harmony with nature is one of the many ways to escape the rat race. Not only that, but you also free yourself from materialistic pursuits, making your life much easier.
Society is not made for everyone, and if you escape it for a while, you can realize what you want in life. Is it really money, power and status you desire? Some people appreciate the simple version of life, which is beautifully shown in this article.
It makes you realize what’s really important in life
You begin to enjoy the simple things in life, and you’re less focused on money, bills, problems and responsibilities. You pay more attention to the chirping of birds, the sound of the wind blowing through the forest and the changing leaves in autumn. Don’t they always tell you to look for happiness in the little things? Well, nature is the perfect place for that.
It’s both an adventure and a form of meditation
The challenge in combination with the beautiful scenery makes it an adventure. Backpacking is a game of independence and self-reliance. In the wilderness, you’re on your own. You survive with only the stuff you carry on your back and getting lost is a possibility. That’s what makes this game so exciting.
But although it’s an adventure, it’s also a form of meditation. The wilderness is a place to rest, even though you may not notice it. Scientists have discovered that when we are surrounded by nature, our frontal lobe deactivates, which is the part of our brain that’s used frequently in modern life. When these scientists measure our brain waves, they notice a significant increase of Alpha waves—the waves that indicate a calm but alert state. These are also the kind of waves that appear when Buddhist monks and meditators are doing what they do—meditate.
You walk through beautiful forests all day long, set up your camp at the end of the day, cook your meal, light a campfire and read a book. If you keep doing this routine for a few days, you’ll notice a shift in your conscience.
The constant silence certainly has something to do with it. It’s this silence and routine that pushes you into a totally different mindset. You clear your mind of garbage and experience inner peace, especially when you’re backpacking alone.
“Silence is the storm that breaks down our dead branches and sends our roots deeper into the heart of the living Earth.”
You get to see beautiful places
The landscapes can be so beautiful that they give you a little adrenaline rush. Primitive tent camping gives you the chance to explore raw, untouched nature—and it’s beautiful.
Not everyone will enjoy it as much as I do, but I think we can agree that some places can be stunning.
I hope this article has provided the answer you were looking for. Backpacking is not just an outdoor activity. It’s also a cure for mental problems, and you should really try it if you’re in need of a break. Nature heals and can do more healing than you might think.
So take your backpack, pack your gear, prepare yourself and head out into the wilderness!