When was your last hit of dopamine? If you’ve recently experienced pleasure or satisfaction, more than likely a sweet dose of dopamine was involved.
This summer I spent a few months living in my family’s backyard, my van parked on a beautiful tree-ringed spot on the banks of the Mettowee River.
I LOVED being back east spending time with my family, but I noticed when I was in the house too long, I start feeling flat. I fell into old habits of binge-playing video games, compulsively checking email and Facebook. I was jonesing for my next hit of dopamine.
The neurotransmitter dopamine involves good stuff — pleasure, satisfaction and goal setting — but unfortunately, our brain doesn’t care how we get our next hit.
Addictions to drugs, alcohol, porn, shopping, food, or even browsing the internet are poor but effective substitutes for increasing our feel-good neurotransmitters. It’s not rocket science to see that the Western capitalistic way of life isn’t promoting human health … but that’s a story for another day.
Nature As Medicine
Living outdoors as a nomad, nature enraptures me with ever-changing scenery, the constant parade of life, subtle transformations of light, sun and clouds — and my brain responds to this sensuality with a beautiful orchestra of chemicals and brain waves.
"Researchers have found as little as five minutes outdoors in a natural setting can improve mood, increase motivation and boost self esteem. Even a brief walk in the park can improve your well-being.” — Ten Ways To Boost Dopamine And Serotonin Naturally.
Feelin’ Good As A Nomad
From converting our vehicles, traveling to beautiful destinations, to the daily maintenance of nomad life, goals are inherent in the nomadic lifestyle!
“When we achieve one of our goals, our brain releases dopamine. The brain finds this dopamine rush very rewarding. It seeks out more dopamine by working toward another goal. This pattern keeps a steady release of dopamine in your brain.”
When I look back on memories of the last two years as a nomad, I’m amazed at the amount of wonderful experiences I now treasure!
“Researchers have examined the interaction between mood and memory. People dwelling on happy memories produced more serotonin.”
As a nomad, I’m treated to the unending novelty of new roads, new views, new humans!
"The brain reacts to novel experiences by releasing dopamine. You can naturally increase your dopamine by seeking out new experiences. Any kind of experience will work.”
The Healing Power Of The Earth
Living as a nomad, I naturally experience “Earthing.”
“Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep …” — Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons
Nomads benefit immensely from fresh air, sunlight and exposure to natural spaces, with fewer EMFs, off-gassing, indoor pollution and screen time. (What are EMFs? Read here.)
Nomadism As A Path To Awakening
- Nomads become proficient at self-sufficiency, self-knowledge, and self-dependency. As a nomad I’ve grown into deeper self-acceptance, and realize how much I’m still capable of.
- Because there’s less distraction from our inner selves, nomadism is a perfect opportunity to get in touch with issues that may have been on the back burner.
- As we travel, we’re exposed to a broader perspective on humanity, meeting fellow humans outside of our narrow birth clan.
- Our personal life-force is given a chance to awaken when we’re not numbed out by traditional, tedious routines.
- We develop a wider view, and deeper appreciation of Earth, our original home.
- We have stunning revelations of how little we really need to thrive. We’re free to experience LIFE when the pursuit and maintenance of possessions isn’t stealing our time, money, effort and energy.
- We find our tribe on the road. We replace co-dependency with inter-dependency. With such a diverse population of nomads now connected with modern technology, there’s a place for all of us!
Learning To Live Without,
We Invite In The Richness Of Life
Nomad life isn’t perfect, but I’ve seen vistas of soul-moving beauty I would’ve never experienced sitting around in my old apartment. I’ve met astounding and inspiring humans, and after living happily single for many years, even met my life-partner Nancy on the desert.
Now, even when I’m struggling, I feel ALIVE. I’m out there experiencing the world. I am FREE!
You can read more about nomadism, ups and downs, fears and successes, in the book I wrote my first year on the road: Wild Women On The Road: A Women’s Guide To Nomadic Freedom In The Modern Age.
For a more humorous take on the nomad life, my second book: Top Ten Lists For Nomads: The (Mostly) Lighter Side Of Nomadic Life