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Archive for April 14th, 2014

What Happened To The Lost Art Of Camping?

Posted on: April 14th, 2014 by Quik Shade


Taking time to recharge by spending time in nature or just on any kind of vacation is one of the best choices you can make to help relieve stress and encourage a healthier perspective. So why don’t more people take the time to do this? Many are afraid that vacations will make them lose their jobs, others simply say they are too busy for a vacation.

The truth is that taking care of your health, both physically and mentally, should be a priority. Not taking any vacations will have a negative impact on your health as well as your productivity. Your friends and family will be affected, as well as your employer. Making time to get away from it all, even if it’s only for a day or two, is good for you.

How to take time away from the digital world.

These days it’s harder than ever to unplug. With smartphones and the Internet, it’s possible to stay connected to everything that’s going on in the digital world 24 hours a day. The result of this is more stress and higher levels of anxiety. If you’re looking to take a vacation that truly lets you get away from it all, consider spending time in nature.

A camping trip forces you to put away the smartphone and stop obsessively checking email and social media. It may be hard at first, but in the end you’ll feel happier, lighter, and more clear. Take the opportunity to assess your life and where it’s going. A vacation like this gives you a better perspective and the energy to return to your life with a healthier attitude. Here are some other ways camping, or any vacation that allows you to get away, can benefit you:

1. Benefits physical and mental health.

Vacation time lowers blood pressure, encourages positive emotions, helps with depression, and even has a positive effect on weight. People who allow themselves more leisure time are more satisfied with their lives and are physically healthier.

2. Encourages longevity.

Studies show that those who take vacations are at a much lower risk for heart disease and live longer than those who worked continuously.

3. Improved job performance.

A vacation provides an opportunity to gain a wider perspective. The result is you’ll return to the job better able to tackle problems and make good decisions.

4. Relieves stress.

This one is pretty obvious, but many of us aren’t aware of how much stress can affect other areas of our lives if left unchecked. Concentration, sleep, and mood are all directly affected by stress levels. Taking a vacation brings benefits to all those areas. You’ll be enjoying the effects weeks after the vacation has ended.

5. Gets you moving.

Spending time outdoors, especially with swimming, camping or hiking, is likely to get you to do more physical activity than usual. Even just sightseeing gets you moving. If you can’t go far, take a walk around the neighborhood or explore a new area. Anything that takes you out of your normal routine is good for your health.

5 Activities To Do With Your Children This Summer

Posted on: April 14th, 2014 by Quik Shade


Summer for parents across the country can be both exhilarating and stressful. You look forward to spending more time with your kids but also want to make sure the time spent is fun for you too. It can be overwhelming to come up with creative ideas that will make the most of those three short months. Here are some ideas for summer activities that both parents and kids will enjoy doing together. Soon enough, September will roll around again leaving you with memories of a summer that will stay with your family for years to come.

1. Plant a garden together

Nothing gets parents and kids closer together than working on a project together. A project that will continue to grow and flourish, like an outdoor vegetable or flower garden, is a great start to building parent/child collaboration. Even kids as young as 3 or 4 can help out with garden activities like weeding and watering. Summer is a great time to start a garden with fruits and vegetables. Prepare the soil yourself and then decide what crops the two of you want to grow.

Watermelons, sunflowers, squash, and pumpkins are always a good idea. Plant seedlings or seeds as soon as school lets out and continue to water, weed, and fertilize throughout the season. Gardening is fun and creative, and encourages kids to enjoy fresh, healthy foods. You can even cook the food you grow for family meals. Gardening encourages a love of nature in children and teaches them to appreciate all the elements that work together to grow healthy food.

2. String up a hammock.

There’s no better way to relax and enjoy summer than swinging in a backyard hammock. Both kids and adults can spend lazy summer days napping, reading, and relaxing from the comfort of a hammock.

3. Go camping.

There are campsites and parks all over America that are great for exploring with kids. Camping is a great way to encourage a love of nature and a thirst for outdoor exploration. Beaches, mountains, deserts, and forests are all great locations for camping excursions, especially during the summer. Camping is relaxing and challenging. Camping has even been seen as a natural cure for insomnia. Eating, sleeping and relaxing in nature encourages self sufficiency and independence, and it can bring families closer together.

Taking time away from television, videogames, and the Internet can be challenging for some families but it’s also a great way to get back to the basics. Hiking, storytelling, swimming and other activities take the place of technological distractions when a family goes camping.

4. Make music.

Get kids together with guitars, drums, shakers, or whatever musical instrument they desire for an impromptu concert. Set up a stage in the backyard and invite friends and neighbors to watch the show. The event will surely be an event to remember.

5. Build a fort or clubhouse.

Take time to use materials at hand and your children’s creativity to build the fort of their dreams. A backyard clubhouse or treehouse will provide hours of fun, as well as fertile ground for creativity.

photo credit: Lauren Fritts via photopin cc

Outdoor Therapy Being Introduced To Returning Veterans

Posted on: April 14th, 2014 by Quik Shade


One of the biggest struggles for veterans returning home is dealing with stress and emotional trauma. New programs for outdoor activities are looking at how they can help alleviate some of that trauma.

Many veterans struggle with psychological issues upon returning home and aren’t get the attention and treatment they need for these issues. As more and more troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, effectively treating both physical and mental issues for these veterans has once again gained attention in the national spotlight.

What Programs Are Available For Veterans?

Recreation and outdoor programs for veterans are being introduced to help improve psychological well being, social functioning, and general life outlook. Researchers are discovering that these types of activities are making an impact and that many veterans prefer outdoor activities to traditional clinical treatments.

Programs for veterans such as Returning WarriorsProject Healing Waters, and Wounded Warriors In Action are studying the effects of such activities on their participants. Physical activities include backpacking, canoeing, rafting, and fishing. The focus was kept on the activities themselves rather than their therapeutic effects. Agricultural activities were also made available by sponsorship of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. There were no formal practices such as therapy, medication, or psychological counseling included in the program.

Veterans Response To Outdoor Programs

Veterans were recruited and took surveys both before and after the program was completed. Each outdoor recreation program lasted between four and seven days. Most of the participants were male and between ages 30-49 years. They had mostly served in the military in the past 10 years or so. 54% of the participants said they suffered from mental issues on a daily basis and about 70% had been treated in the past for mental health or substance abuse issues.

After the program concluded, participants were once again given a survey where they were asked several questions and asked to respond on a five point scale. Some questions included “In the last few weeks, how often have you felt like your life had clear goals or purpose?” or “When confronted with a difficult situation how frequently do you try to look on the bright side of things?”. The questions were designed to assess any changes in psychological state, outlook on life, and general social functioning.

Program Deemed A Success

The outcome of the studies showed a significant change in these three areas after the program was completed. The success of the program can be attributed to the time spent in natural environments, challenging each participant on a personal level, and encouraging a sense of camaraderie with other veterans.

Further research is being done to assess the long term effects of such programs. In the mean time awareness of the issue is growing among Americans. In President Obama’s State of the Union address last week, he brought national attention to the challenges returning veterans have to face. Effectively managing the mental issues these veterans struggle with can help provide a smoother transition when returning home and to new routines.

photo credit: DVIDSHUB via photopin cc