Consider a Nature Vacation – By Lisa Franseen
As I pack to leave for Lees Ferry from Flagstaff on the first morning of my nature vacation with Arizona Raft Adventures, I feel a twinge of angst as I throw my cell phone in the suitcase. When was the last time I was without this constant companion? I pride myself in “unplugging” regularly, but certainly not for fifteen days! The average person spends about eight hours every day engaged with digital technology. Between our cell phones, texts and emails, Facebook, blogs, twitters, googling, and gaming, we are constantly plugged in. A nature vacation trip floating through the Grand Canyon means we must unplug from this electronic noise and leave our lives behind. Is there a mental and psychological benefit from doing so? Or negative impacts if we don’t?
Only a half hour a day outdoors in nature shows to increase our ability to focus, concentrate, make better decisions, and to feel less stressed out. Research journals are now filled with studies that show the beneficial effects of being in nature. Those of us who already play regularly outdoors don’t need research to tell us this. But, unfortunately, in our “civilized” lives the average amount of time spent outdoors is only four minutes a day. That’s about the time it takes to get back and forth to our cars! In fact, twenty years of studies on children have found that too much “screen time” (more than one to two hours per day) leads to obesity and poor nutrition, learning and focusing difficulties, poor social skills, and higher rates of depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, irritability, and behavioral problems. I have a client in my counseling practice who is trying to break his 6000-text-messages-per-month habit. Using canyon language, perhaps it’s now the norm to be drowning in a digital flash flood? Should more of us embrace a nature vacation?
A Nature Vacation Allows You To Escape the Digital Drowning
Lisa Franseen, PhD, is an ecopsychologist and was in private practice in Traverse City, Michigan until her trip with AZRA in October, 2011. Burned out on insurance companies and bureaucracy, she is now skiing somewhere in the Rockies, awaiting her first guide trip with Adventures in Good Company.