Winter is an important time of year for to get outdoors as much as possible. The benefits of sunlight, fresh air and exercise are proven for improving mental health and wellbeing. Winter is a time when many of us choose to stay indoors and avoid going out into the cold and wet weather. This can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms include fatigue, depression and a lack of motivation. Help is at hand though in the form of Mother Nature.
Without direct sunlight our bodies cannot produce vitamin D, which is important for maintaining normal blood levels of phosphorus and calcium, and helps keep our bones healthy and strong.
The amount of daylight we get each day has a dramatic effect on our mood too. Without this daylight our body produces substances that make us feel lethargic and lacking in energy. Idun Haugan of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology says that when sunlight hits our retinas at the back of our eyes, light sensitive nerve cells are activated which stimulates the production of serotonin and cortisol;
“These substances are important in determining our physical and mental health. Insufficient levels of serotonin can result in depression, lack of energy, sleep problems, mood swings and poor impulse control.” (Haugan 2013)
It is not always easy to get motivated to go outside in the middle of winter but remember this lack of motivation is caused by our lack of sunlight and the over production of melatonin (our body’s sleep hormone). So in the winter months with so little daylight available it’s even more important to get outside and feel the sun on your face, in fact, I guarantee you will feel more energised and invigorated for making the effort.
In this video I give you 8 activities that you can do yourself to practise mindfulness whilst out enjoying a walk in nature. Join me as I take a walk through the countryside in winter after a heavy snowfall. You don’t need snow to practise mindfulness in the outdoors though, these techniques can be used at anytime of year, whatever the weather.
As well as running Introduction to Mindfulness in the Woods course I also host private one-to-one nature therapy sessions with my clients. Along with my husband James (an experienced bushcraft instructor) I am also hosting Mindfulness & Bushcraft Weekend experiences. If you’d like to know more, just get in touch.