Multiple studies have shown that spending time in nature has a huge impact on our physical and mental health. There is a distinct connection between exposure to nature and improved cognitive functioning, brain activity, blood pressure, physical activity, and better sleep. Time in nature may also decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and overall risk of cardiovascular disease. However, finding the motivation to spend time outdoors over the winter can be challenging due to wet weather, colder temperatures, and darker days. If you would still like to get outside this winter, check out these tips for making the most of your experience.
1. Embrace it!
Traditionally, we label weather as “good” or “bad” but there really is no such thing. Pull on your jacket, boots, and hat and get out there in the rain. Find something positive to focus your attention on such as the sound of the raindrops or how they create ripples on the surface of puddles and ponds. Try listening to a guided walking meditation that focuses on the natural world and how to cultivate your connection with it.
2. Visit the same location in all types of weather
Natural spaces can be completely different depending on the season. Remember that waterfall you hiked to in the summer that was barely a trickle? Try visiting it after a rainstorm or during freezing temperatures to witness rumbling, rushing water and overhanging icicles. Choose a place that means something to you and make a point of observing it in various conditions. You can even take pictures to compare your experiences throughout the year.
3. Bring a buddy
If you’re hesitant to brave the weather alone, pair up with someone whose enthusiasm for the outdoors will rub off on you. Go puddle jumping with the young person in your life or call up that friend who is always up for an adventure. While some furry friends are not fans of the rain, most dogs will be overjoyed to join you on a wet, muddy trail.
4. Visit a place that is enhanced by rough weather
Living on the west coast of Canada, we have access to natural spaces that radiate power and healing energy in “bad” weather. Storm watching is a unique and memorable experience, so if you struggle to enjoy the outdoors in the winter why not plan a trip to one of these spots? Watch the huge waves roll in from a safe distance or cuddle up next to a big window overlooking the ocean.
It doesn’t take much to improve your overall physical and mental health when engaging with nature. Find something that works for you, even if it’s just stepping out into the fresh air once a day. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of being in nature or would like to explore the possibility of nature-based therapy sessions, please schedule a free 15-minute consultation with one of our counsellors.
Written by Cat Zydyk
Jimenez, M.P., DeVille, N.V., Elliott, E.G., Schiff, J.E., Wilt, G.E.,Hart, J.E., & James, P. (2021). Associations between nature exposure and health: A review of the evidence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(9). doi: 10.3390/ijerph18094790