In this article, Sheena Corry, co-owner of The Forge, a glamping retreat, discusses the links between our use of technology and mental health. She suggests that by taking a break and surrounding yourself in nature, you can become happier, healthier, and more prepared to face everyday stresses.

Did you know that camping out under the stars and getting back in touch with nature can do wonders for your mental health? In this modern age of smart phones, we feel like we are always ‘on’: checking work emails on our days off; constantly feeling the pressure of comparison through social media; not to mention all the masses of apps and data which seemingly track our every move – pedometers, heart rate, sleep time, the list goes on. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that there is mounting evidence to suggest that all this is having a detrimental impact on our generation’s mental health.

Wouldn’t if feel wonderful just to dial down all this digital noise and step back into a calmer, less frenetic way of life for a few days? To not feel the need to check your phone on average every 12 minutes or be constantly distracted by the vibration in our pocket. But instead feel actually present in the moment, able to appreciate the simpler things in life and really connect with the people around us.

Engaging in bushcraft activities, such as lighting your own fire, foraging your own wild food and communal campfire cooking are a perfect way to step off the modern world and forget about your phone for a few hours. There is something about a campfire which ignites an inner primal memory which has not only been proven to reduce blood pressure and make us feel calmer but also stimulates our social and creative side, helping us to bond, share stories and evolve ideas.  

Couple this with the opportunity to sleep outside in your own cosy bell tent and the benefits to your mental health increase even further. There is a strong body of evidence to prove that getting in tune with your natural circadian rhythms, going to bed when it naturally gets dark and getting up when it gets light promotes better quality sleep, especially when you have no electric lamps or artificial light from screens. Plus sleeping outside means you get more oxygen because you are not in an enclosed space recycling all the oxygen into carbon dioxide. And more oxygen means more serotonin which makes you feel more calm, happy and relaxed.  

And finally, just being in a remote, green space can work wonders for your state of mind. Dr. Ulrich famously conducted a study which showed that patients whose windows looked out onto trees and green spaces recovered far more quickly than patients facing a brick wall.  The Japanese also engage in ‘forest bathing’ because the benefits of spending time in nature are so remarkable. Just going for a walk without your phone (Imagine! Just leaving it behind at home for a few hours!) and taking a moment to appreciate the colours of the leaves, the sound of birdsong and the smell of the trees can leave you feeling more positive and creative, your mind de-cluttered and more focused for whatever challenges lie ahead.

The Forge provides a unique glamping experience, offering ‘digital detox’ retreats combining bushcraft and nature experiences with luxury camping facilities designed to minimise the stress of taking a holiday. Equipped with everything you could possibly need, their accommodation is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with stunning views across the Berwyn and Snowdonia ranges, perfect for watching the sun set or a spot of star gazing.

With a background in bushcraft and survival skills and a corporate City career, Jamie and Sheena Corry are a husband and wife team who are passionate about the benefits of nature and being outside and will happily tailor an experience to suit the needs of their guests. Check out their website or give them a call on 01490412972 and take your first step to a happier, calmer you.

The Forge were 2018’s runner up for the Best Rural Tourism Business Award, and a finalist for the Outstanding Rural Diversification Project Award in Wales and Northern Ireland. Entries for the 2019-20 awards year are now open, so if you are considering entering, click here for more information.

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