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Maybe this is something that you can relate to. You head out for a weekend of tent camping with some friends. Everything is going well, the tent setup was fast and easy, you won a few hands of poker that afternoon, and dinner was amazing. You’ve had a smile on your face for hours. But now it’s time to hit the sack, and suddenly you feel anxiety creeping in as you lay in your sleeping bag in your tent. You don’t know where it comes from, but you can’t always shake it. It’s hard to fall asleep, and when you do sleep it’s very light and you wake up frequently. You’ve never had this before, and you’ve gone tent camping for years. What the heck is going on?
You’re experiencing anxiety, and it’s not fun when it happens. It might not happen every time you sleep in your tent, but that doesn’t help much when it happens. So what can you do to help keep the heebee geebies away? This was a question posed on Facebook, and there were hundreds of responses from other tent campers. So what did they say helps?
You Are Not Alone
Perhaps the most important thing you should know is that you are not the only one it happens to. Plenty of people love to go tent camping, but they occasionally get some anxiety when it’s time to sleep in their tent. Sometimes it’s just helpful to know that you are not the only one it happens to, and that others can relate to your situation. Misery loves company, and knowing others suffer anxiety sometimes when sleeping in tents offers some comfort.
And I’m not immune to this either. Most of the time I don’t give it a second thought and really enjoy sleeping in our tent. But sometimes I get anxiety that something will happen, or that we aren’t safe even when we are. Sounds outside the tent are magnified for me, and I have a very difficult time getting to sleep, and then what sleep I had is fitful and not very beneficial for me. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone, and that it is normal to have anxiety sometimes over sleeping in your tent.
Sometimes It’s The Size That Counts
Yeah, that’s a provocative sentence. That’s why I used it. But really, size sometimes does matter when it comes to negating anxiety when sleeping in a tent. If you have a smaller tent, that smaller size means that you have less room, and the walls feel closer than they really are. In a way, you are feeling claustrophobic, and those feelings subside when you leave the tent.
You can try a larger tent to see if that helps with your anxiety. Some people have found that a larger tent, plus sleeping in the middle of said tent, helps relieve their anxiety. They don’t have claustrophobia and don’t worry about a bear swiping them through the tent door (at least as easily). This may work for you, or it may not, but it is worth trying.
Toss Me Another Beer
Some folks offer up some pre-bedtime alcohol as the solution to the anxiety. There were several comments addressing a bit of drink before hitting the sack working well for them. And there is some truth to this suggestion. Alcohol is a depressant, making one more drowsy and less alert, thus helping you to fall asleep faster and to stay asleep.
Now, this is not always possible, and I will say that this needs to be done with care. Some people should NOT be drinking at all, and just because you have anxiety doesn’t give you license to drink. If you are prone to alcoholism, steer clear of this method. There are other alternatives that you should look at to try to combat the anxiety.
Carry A Big Stick
No walking softly around here, but definitely it might be worth carrying a firearm if you are concerned for your safety. Several people responding to the post indicated that they bring a small handgun with them for protection. If your anxiety is caused by fear of being attacked, having a weapon with you may make you feel more safe and comfortable, leading to good sleep.
If you choose to bring a firearm with you, understand the local laws in the area you will be staying at. Some places are okay with firearms, others are not, and it’s not a good idea to violate those laws and policies. If you are wondering, speak with the park manager about things and see if they will allow you to bring your firearm with you.
Know Your Surroundings
Sometimes anxiety comes because things are new and unknown. This is especially true when going tent camping in a location you’ve never been before. Things look different, sounds are different, and it can be a little unnerving. The way to help combat this is to familiarize yourself with the area you are camping in. This means taking a walk around the campground to understand how big it is, where you are in relation to everyone else, how many people are staying there, etc. Additionally, it can help to introduce yourself to your neighbors when camping and get to know them a little. This can make you feel like you have an ally should something bad or weird happen.
Taking a walk around the campground actually serves several purposes. For you, it can help to relieve anxiety when going to sleep as you know your surroundings better than when you first arrived. Second, if you have children, taking them around the campground can do the same thing for them. They will feel more comfortable as well. And lastly, it’s good exercise so you are getting a cardio workout in with your surveying of the campground. Also, who doesn’t like to meet new people? Sometimes you’ll end up having a great time with them and learn some new tips for your next camping trip.
Sometimes the anxiety happens because of unfamiliar sounds that only seem to happen after dark. You don’t know what is making those sounds, and it breeds some anxiety over what it might be. One way to overcome this is to have something that will produce some white noise, such as a babbling brook, or light rainfall. This can drown out the noises from outside and allow you to relax and get to sleep.
A related option is for you to have ear plugs and wear those to keep out the noises at night. As a light sleeper, I’ve often resorted to ear plugs in order to get to sleep while tent camping. I don’t use them all the time, but I have a set with me in case I ever want to use them. These might also work for you.
Believe it or not, these are not the only answers to dealing with anxiety when tent camping. I may do a second post detailing out additional methods to try that have proved successful for others who otherwise enjoy tent camping. So what about you? Do you have anxiety sometimes when tent camping? If so, how do you handle it?
Got some feedback on this topic? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, send me an email or share it on social media! Happy Tent Camping!
Featured Image photo courtesy Joanne Adela, 11/14/2019. Photo was taken from: https://www.pexels.com/@joanne-adela-low-1362561