It’s that time of year. Frigid temps, a stark landscape, and for many, it’s dark outside for both daily commutes. It’s the season that sends so many of us into hibernation mode. Just the thought of cold fingers and toes can make you head for the couch with your favorite hot beverage and pile on a blanket or two. Winter has a way of making us want to settle in with a just-get-through-it attitude. And while I enjoy cozying up in front of a warm fire with a good book and fuzzy blanket just as much as anyone else, I know that this idleness isn’t what’s best for me all winter long … physically or mentally.
I have always felt a deep connection with nature. It’s the one place where my breath comes easier, my shoulders relax a little more than usual, and my mind seems clearer. I think better while in motion and breathing in fresh air. And the brisk air on a cold winter’s day has a way of bringing me right into the present. Spending time outdoors, especially during the winter months, is also a great way to boost your mood, increase physical activity, reduce stress, and get your daily dose of all natural Vitamin D. Even if my outdoor excursions are short, the ROI is big, and it makes a huge difference in my day, compared to those that are spent exclusively indoors.
Here are some tips for continuing, and actually enjoying, your connection with nature during winter:
Take it outside: Go for a walk, even if it’s a short one. During your lunch break, ask a co-worker to join you or go it alone and use the quiet time for a walking meditation. A quick 5-10 minute walk can break up the monotony of the work day and is a great way to clear your head. You’ll enter your afternoon feeling refreshed instead of sluggish. Do you have a dog? Take them for a walk before and/or after work instead of just letting them out to do their business. Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise to feel their best too. Why not kill two birds with one stone and go for a walk together? Your four-legged friend will thank you for it.
Take full advantage of sunny days: Pay attention to the forecast and plan to spend longer periods of time in the outdoors on those (cold) bright sunny days. Head to a local park or trail for a longer walk. Invite a friend or family member, and pack a thermos with your favorite hot beverage or belly-warming soup to sip while you soak up some elusive winter rays.
Savor the season’s pleasures: Hot toddies, sledding, ice skating, snowball fights … savor these seasonal activities while you can. It will be a whole year before you have the chance to enjoy them again.
Be present: If you are going to go through the trouble of bundling up, be all there when you are outside. Be mindful of the sights, sounds, and scents. Take some deep breaths and notice how good it feels to breathe in the fresh air. Fully absorb the experience. Avoid spending this time staring at your phone. Multi-tasking is overrated and checking your email and scrolling social media can wait. Ok, ok … snap a quick photo if you must, but save the social media post for later. After all, it will be much easier to do after your fingers thaw out.
Whatever you do, I hope you choose to live in this winter and not just through it. And if you have any favorite or creative ways to spend more time in the outdoors when the weather is anything but warm, please let us know on social media – #thinkplink.