How To Overcome Camping Anxiety

*disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links and mental health triggers… and it will definitely contain curse words, hard truths, hope, inspiration, and love

Well “I like camping” is a phrase I never thought I’d say… and “I want to go camping” might as well have been a signal that the universe as we all know it is ending. Because even just the thought of going camping has always been enough to make my anxiety run rampant and spiral out of control. But camping has so many benefits and I’m so grateful to have found ways to overcome my camping anxiety so I can reap the goods that come along with camping. 

Which is Why I Want to Talk About Camping Anxiety Today

overcome camping anxiety

Growing up in Florida, I honestly never really cared or thought about camping so camping anxiety or researching camping tips wasn’t even on my radar even though I was deeply struggling with my depression. But since moving to the mountains, I quickly learned that you basically are not considered a local by locals (it’s a very cliquey group of locals out here) unless you are a camper, and you get a lot of dirty looks and questions when you tell people you don’t camp. 

Which I obviously did not care about while I was deep in my depression and don’t currently care about people’s standards, but they definitely had a point. Why live in this beautiful place and not reap the rewards?

But what I want to tell you is that looking back, if I had pushed myself to understand why I had camping anxiety and worked to find camping tips to manage it… I might have started camping sooner and it might have helped with my depression symptoms sooner as well. 

Why Am I Talking About Camping Anxiety on a Mental Health Blog?

So, once I figured out how to move past my camping anxiety, I started camping more frequently. With each time I went camping, I noticed a positive shift in my mental health. And obviously camping is not the make or break, all or nothing, end all be all kinda deal when you are struggling with your mental health…  but small things add up. The shift impacted my life in quite a few different ways, for the better. 

Camping gives me something to look forward to

For me, there was a common theme each time I was admitted into a behavioral health hospital for being suicidal and unsafe to myself or others. I was hopeless about everything, but especially life. Nothing felt worth living for and I never believed anything would EVER feel worth living for (which is also why I try to write these lifestyle inspirational posts in addition to informative mental health posts… to show you that it is possible to love and want life, even if you think you’ll never be able to). 

Having something to look forward to helps make life feel worth living for. So when you are grasping for your life, if there’s anything you do… find something worth living for. Which I KNOW is easier said than done, I promise, I know. But you need to find something to grasp onto because one day, things will feel lighter and this world needs what you’ll have to offer once your fog is lifted. Because you DO have something to offer and you and your life are NOT worthless.

Camping gives me the opportunity to work through fears

Related: 5 Ways Fear Impacts Your Mental Health + How to Cope

Working through fears is something that impacts so many aspects of our lives. It helps build confidence, opens doors to things you never knew you loved, and gives you goals to keep you learning and growing… amongst many other benefits.

There are SO many things about camping that scares me. Heights, bugs, bears, forgetting important things, not having the right clothes for the weather, murderers, the dark, pooping, running out of food, Big Foot, smelling bad, technology fomo, getting lost, being stuck with thoughts, murder hornets, and ghosts. Just to name a few. But forcing myself to get out there, showed me that some of these fears were irrational and also helped me learn how to problem solve the rational ones. 

I feel proud of myself when I overcome fears. I used to sit in a perpetual cycle of hating myself because I let fear build on top of fear and eventually started drowning in them all. I really like to camp because there are so many things I can learn and overcome, as long as I prepare the right way (which I’ll get into later in the post). 

Detox From Social Media, Work, and Others

We all know that detoxing from social media every once in a while is good for the soul, but it’s easier said than done. It’s tempting and easy to redownload Instagram when you’re in cell service, but try doing it while you’re in the middle of the woods… betcha can’t redownload that shit!

So I’m going to be REALLY honest with you in regards to this part of the post… immersing yourself back into the world of having everything at your fingertips after being off the grid for a few days can be A LOT. I am working on a post with advice for how to navigate that, but if you need any quick tips in the interim, shoot me a message here and we can chat!

Anywhooooo, detoxing from social media has so many benefits but the really impactful ones for me are having a break from the comparison game (we all know it’s unhealthy, but most of us do it), clearer focus, and decreased anxiety.

How Does Overcoming Camping Anxiety Help Mental Health?

I’m sharing these camping tips in hopes that if you’ve been feeling stuck, especially in your mental health journey, learning how to overcome camping fears may help you shift a bit. And because camping has so many positive benefits, I think this is a good fear to work on overcoming, especially if you are struggling to find something worth living for. 

Benefits of camping include the following…

Increased Vitamin D

Vitamin D is best known for increasing mood, but it has so many other perks including fighting disease, supporting your immune system, reducing depression, and strengthening your bones and teeth. 

Camping calls for lots of Vitamin D because you are spending so much time outside so overcoming your camping anxiety and camping often might give your depression the kick in the butt it needs. 

Better Sleep

Did you read my post about not being able to fall asleep? There are lots of good tidbits in there to help you get better zzz’s but something that’s really important to know is that your mental health is impacted by your sleep, and your sleep is impacted by your mental health. So it’s kinda important to pay attention to both.

And you know how people buy noise machines to help them get to sleep? Well camping is basically nature’s natural noise machine. I’ve never in my entire life fallen asleep faster than I have while camping next to a river. 

Also, I know this might be shocking, but being in the sun and being active all day makes you much more tired than laying in your bed doing bicep curls with your TV remote does, which also helps you fall asleep faster and get better sleep.

Increased Energy

Increased energy gives you fuel to do life. Or at least kinda maybe slightly do life depending on how depressed you are. Depression naturally makes us fatigued because of a whole bunch of science stuff, but the gist of it is that depression impacts parts of our brain that are responsible for alertness and reward systems which has a physiological impact on our energy levels.

Idk, I’m not a doctor… just a girl who has suffered from clinical depression for 99% of her life but is finally feeling good and wants to help you get there too but def not a science-y gal… So if you’re curious, read all about energy here.

Space to Create Memories and Stronger Relationships

One of the first things to go when we struggle with mental health, depression, and anxiety is our presence in life. We withdraw and isolate. Or if you spent the first 30 years of your life in a state of clinical depression like I have, you’ve just been sitting in a state of isolation for a really long time. Or basically your whole life. Great. 

What’s cool about camping is that you are being forced to step away from social media, emails, etc… and just be present with whoever you are camping with. Since I’ve been camping, I’ve gone both with friends, as well as just my fiance, and each camping trip brings so many bonding moments and opportunities to create memories. 

Stronger relationships help with our mental health and depression (and I’m mostly referring to relationships with HUMANS, not our FURBABIES, though those are important too). Stronger relationships give us a support system which impacts so many aspects of our life. We have someone to lean on, inspire us, motivate us, love us, and more. Being given the opportunity to go camping with people gives you the chance to nurture and grow those bonds in a way that is really hard to do when in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life or have distractions like Netflix and hiding under the covers at your fingertips. 

Increased Gratitude for Simple things

A lot of mental health struggles come from the act of wanting. Or feeling like we don’t have what other people have. When you camp, things are simple. You don’t need to look cute or eat a fancy meal. You don’t have your TV keeping you distracted and blinded to life. You are empowered to just be and appreciate. Take time to see all of the colors. Cook your meal on a fire. Sleep under the stars. Put your feet in some dirt (people say that’s a thing?). Camping reminds us that sometimes we need to simplify our lives in order to reconnect with ourselves. 

Increased Creativity

Being creative is really good for everyone, but especially 


You know how when you’re in a heated moment, it’s usually advised to take a step back before you do or say something you don’t mean? And then usually after you chill for a bit, things feel a bit more manageable or less foggy? Well, same with camping. 

I feel revitalized every time I come back from camping and have the chance to chill and just be. It’s like the combination of the forced pause and all of the juicy benefits listed in the points above just make me feel like I’m starting fresh. All of the icky stuff that happened the week before finally doesn’t matter as much as they once did, and I feel ready and able to take on the new week. 

Camping Tips to Help Overcome Your Fear of Camping + Camping Anxiety

It’s kinda funny because as I was outlining this part of the post, I realized that a lot of my anxieties around camping were all things impacted by my mental health and depression IRL. Which means it makes sense that camping has helped the state of my mental health if my fears of camping went hand in hand with my struggles IRL. So it’s only natural that as I worked through these things in nature, it also translated to positive shifts in my real world. Woah, life is weird and cool all at the same time.

This is how camping improves your depression + the best tips to overcome camping anxiety

My fear of camping and camping anxieties were alleviated by working through the following…


This was a really big one for me to get comfortable with camping, and my fiance quickly learned that I needed 100% control over this aspect of camping to feel comfortable and alleviate my camping anxiety. With my general anxiety and OCD, I need to know where everything is at all times and everything needs to be in the correct spot at all times or I am not okay.  I figured out a system for packing up the car, unpacking at the campsite, and repacking to come home. My first suggestion to overcome your camping anxieties is to communicate what you need from who you are with, especially if you are someone who does not function in chaos and needs consistent structure.  Related: The Ultimate Cleaning Schedule for Depression

A few tips that help me stay organized while camping are:
Clear Camping Bins or Drawer System

This allows everything to have a specific home. I recommend clear bins and clear drawers because then it’s easier to see inside just in case you can’t remember where something is rather than pulling everything out of your bins all willy nilly like a magician pulling scarves out of his sleeve. 

Larger Tent Than You Need 

This might feel excessive but I really like having a bigger tent than we need because it gives me extra space to feel organized, but also make it feel like a home. Mike and I have a 6 person tent and it is perfect. We started with a 4 person tent, but I felt too cluttered which increased my anxiety so Mike agreed to get a 6 person tent which has made a HUGE difference. 

A lot of us who struggle with mental health are creatures of habit. Things need to feel comfy and cozy. I’m sure most of you reading have a safe space, as do I, which is my bed. I obvs can’t take my bed camping with me so I knew I needed to make our sleeping space comfy, and also give me a space to escape to if needed it while on the camping trip. 

Once we pitch the tent, the first thing I do is organize that space. I pull out our mattress pad, sleeping bags, pillows, and clothes out of the car and set it all up. Beds made, clothing organizer set up, laundry bag in clear site, linens folded neatly in a corner. I also set up a bath mat outside and inside the tent opening so that there is plenty of space to wipe feet and take shoes off without getting the tent all icky and muddy. 

Dirty Laundry Bag

I can’t stand clothes all over the place, but throwing clothes around in a festive manner might as well be my fiance’s day job. That. Shit. Is. Everywhere. My brain cannot function when things are in chaos and that chaos fuels my anxiety so some of my fears could be heightened simply because my anxiety is not in check. 

Once we got a dirty laundry bag, it made staying organized while camping as well as pulling life together once getting home so much easier and maintainable. 

Systems and Homes for EVERYTHING

I’m very much a systems person. I kind of don’t function without them. I don’t have like, super concrete tangible advice for this section other than empowering you to put some systems in place based on your own needs and quirks. Our systems include how we pack and unpack the car, how we clean our dishes throughout the weekend, and knowing where every single thing we pack is supposed to be. 

On that note, I’ve found it easier to pack the car with the things you’ll need least on the inside to things needed the most out the outside. Meaning, we don’t need our paddleboards while we’re driving across the state or setting up camp so those are the first thing to go towards the inner section of the car and then we pack everything else around them. 

Our set up includes…

  • Clothes and personal items along the backseat passenger door
  • Tent and sleep stuff along the backseat driver side door
  • Camping gear and food along the trunk door


Safety is obviously a huge piece of camping anxiety. Because, like, who wants to get eaten by a bear? I feel like there are other ways I’d rather go out. Once I spent time understanding where I needed to be more educated in providing safety for myself, I felt a lot more comfortable with the idea of camping. 


This one is obviously on everyone’s mind. BE BEAR AWARE!!! Do your research to understand the wildlife in your surroundings and prepare accordingly. Also, based on your research, maybe don’t choose campsites that are known to have wildlife that you are super uncomfortable with. Basically, the only campsites I’m comfortable at are ones known to have bears. I don’t fuck with snakes and mountain lions. 

Bears are typically the biggest concern I’ve seen since camping but luckily, living in Aspen has gotten me super comfortable with bears. Bear repellant is totally a thing and I recommend bringing some with you, but also… bears are easily scared off. Typically getting as tall as you can and yelling at the bear does the trick. Just don’t get between a cub and it’s mama. 

Additionally in regards to bears, you should totally purchase a bear box for an added layer of protection around your food and don’t keep that bear box near your tent. Duh. 

First Aid

If you’re a hypochondriac, bring a first aid kit. Or I guess bring one even if you aren’t because uh-ohs happen. Tbh, I haven’t needed one yet… but I always feel less anxious when I am prepared for the worst. 


When I first started camping, I had anxiety around not being comfortable. Being comfortable is something that is important to me, makes me feel safe, and supports my mental health… so fuck all of the people who make fun of me for ‘glamping’. I need to be comfortable.

I already listed my needs for comfort in the organization section above because my comfort is driven through organization and systems, but I wanted to call comfort out separately if organization is not what does it for you. Some people don’t like to be away from their bed or home, so bringing something from home to put in your tent can help. TBH, I bring a stuffed animal that I sleep with every night at home. Or some people find safety in senses, so if you have a scent that comforts you… bring that. 

Awareness of Your Own Needs

A big part of what reduced my fear of camping was getting really honest with myself about what I was afraid of and what I needed.

Some people are afraid of the dark (LIKE MEEEEE!), so packing extra lanterns to set up around camp and in your tent helps alleviate that fear. I also set up a buddy system for middle of the night bathroom breaks. Basically, I just make Mike wake me up everytime he needs to go to the bathroom and I go with him. We share a lovely bonding moment of peeing next to each other in the woods with headlamps on, and then snuggle back up in the tent. 

Try to be aware of your specific needs and make sure to advocate for yourself and ask for help when needed.

Phew, that was a lotttt of info around overcoming camping anxieties, hope it hepled!

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If you have any specific q’s that I didn’t cover, shoot me a message HERE and if you have any TIPS I didn’t cover, pop in the comments below and share your wisdom!

saylahvee, Michelle
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saylahvee is a blog with mental health related rants, rambles, advice, information, and inspiration for the fighter who is fighting the hard fight against depression and anxiety and is in need of good laughs and ugly cries to help feel a little less lonely while learning to navigate the world of mental health and this crazy thing we call life.

  • Sam
    Posted at 08:51h, 03 October Reply

    I never realized I had camping anxiety! This was so helpful

    • saylahvee
      Posted at 10:39h, 06 November Reply

      I never realized it either! I always thought i just hated camping which was a bummer bc so many friends camp and I felt so confused because I wanted to camp but didn’t want to camp… and it was really just because I had anxiety about actually doing it even though I wanted to do it. So i just needed to figure out how to power through the anxiety and it’s definitely worth it!

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