Wellbeing Diaries – Week Nine: Solo Camping Trips and Exercising Our Brains4 min read


yellow flowers against a blue sky


By Lucille Thornhill


Wellbeing Diaries is a weekly series featuring different PSU community members sharing their perspectives on practicing and understanding wellbeing. This week a student talks about going on solo camping trips and exercising our brains during quarantine!

Hey! I’m Lucille. I’m a psychology student with a focus in neuroscience and a Spanish minor. As a student with disabilities, remote learning through the pandemic has been tough. It’s really important to me that I keep my wellbeing my top priority though, and I’d love to share with you what has worked for me! 

What is something you did last week (or regularly do) just for yourself? 

I regularly keep Sundays free of social obligations and overly stimulating or strenuous activities. Because I have some sensory processing issues, the increased use of electronics for remote learning has been especially challenging. Heavily restricting incoming stimuli once a week gives me a good reminder to practice living slowly and gently, to enjoy my alone time in a mindful way, and recharge for the week to come! 

What makes you feel most alive? 

I feel most alive when I go out for a leisurely bike ride. It’s a gentle exercise in the fresh air that I like to use as a time to appreciate nature, murals, and residential architecture. 

What have you tried that challenged you, pushed you out of your comfort zone, or scared you? What were your thoughts, and how did you feel? 

Solo camping! I started with camping in the safety of my car but I quickly fell in love with the hobby and transitioned to backpacking. Picking up all the skills and knowledge necessary to be able to do dispersed camping responsibly ended up being a fun and fulfilling distraction from the challenges of 2020. It also adhered to social distancing mandates and gave me a very particular sense of freedom and accomplishment to be able to get out without waiting or depending on anyone else. I highly recommend trying it out, and if you’re curious, here are some links that I’ve found helpful: 

What podcasts, YouTube videos, or music helped you or made you feel good during the quarantine? 

I work as a nanny and found a lot of joy in listening to movie soundtracks with my nanny kids. My Neighbor Totoro, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Willy Wonka, and the Chocolate Factory. We’d learn all the lyrics! One time my 7-year-old did a fantastic impression of the deep-voiced Mayor singing in ‘This Is Halloween’ and it got me into watching videos of voice actor performances. 

What exercises your brain?

I like to play patient card games, do foreign language practice, and mindfulness meditation. https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/top-solitaire-card-games-412483 

Are there any new books that you have read or are currently reading? What is it about, and why did you choose that book? 

Yes! I’m reading a great book called Frientimacy by Shasta Nelson. It’s all about how to develop deeper connections with friends by learning to identify and attend to “intimacy gaps”. The author includes a lot of realistic examples, practical tips, and encourages the reader to reassess their boundaries and expectations.


Books like this one have been especially helpful while adjusting to social distancing measures; to the fact that the pandemic either forced distance between many of us or forced us to be a little more in each other’s business than we would’ve been under normal circumstances. 

What are the sounds that calm you down? 

A couple of years ago, I started falling asleep to a Nature Sounds for Deep Sleep playlist. At some point, I started listening to it all hours that I was home; turning it on once I got home in the evenings and turning it off when I left the house the next morning. It’s really my favorite thing! It helps quiet my mind and keep my attention on track, so I still do this pretty regularly.


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