Keep calm and camp on; Nature can decrease symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the short cold days and long starry nights of winter set in, many feel the ‘blues’.  However, there are some individuals who are highly affected by the change in season, who are truly ‘SAD’ with Seasonal Affective Disorder.  However, a visit to your favourite park can be part of the solution to SAD.

This disorder is associated with feelings of sadness, anxiety, extreme fatigue, loss of interest in social activities and the inability to concentrate.  It is believed SAD is caused from a biochemical imbalance, which decreases the amount of serotonin found in the human body.  Serotonin is a transmitter responsible for mood, appetite, sleep and memory.

As with any mental health issue, if there are any serious feelings of depression, you should contact your doctor.

However, for many people with minor symptoms these simple proactive actions can be taken: get outside, especially in the morning sun, get active, get a work out and pack a healthy snack or meal to complete your outing!  According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, a daily walk in nature can be as effective in treating mild cases of depression as taking an anti-depressant.

A great excuse to soak up some sun and some much needed vitamin D is to try out the Frontenac’s All- Season Camping Challenge!  The rules are simple; all you need to do is camp in the park for one night of each month of the year for 12 consecutive months.  To start, you register at the camp office and a year later you hand in your record sheet with your permits.  And of course, when you are finished you get to celebrate!  The following November, there will be a Challenge Celebration, where you will receive a certificate, crest, and your name on a plaque located in the park office.

A little nervous for winter camping?  They even have a solution for that!  The Friends of Frontenac Provincial Park offer several courses regarding all aspects of being active in the Park.  On January 17,there will be a Learn to Winter Camp program, where you learn all aspects of camping in the cold from pre-trip planning to equipment to safe winter travel.  The only cost to you is a daily vehicle permit.  To pre-register, call the park office at (613) 376-3489.

Some other skill workshops offered are Introduction to Backcountry Camping and Wilderness Navigation.  For the 2015 dates, times and prices check out the Friends of Frontenac Provincial Park’s website and the Ontario Parks event page.

So plan your winter sunshine filled adventure and camp on at Frontenac Provincial Park!