To be at one with nature is to be at one with yourself.
Think of the last time you were feeling overwhelmed by a task at work and instead of staring blankly at the screen you took a walk through a nearby park. How did it feel? We’re going to take a guess and say it made you feel a little better, a little bit more at peace with yourself. There’s just something about getting outdoors, taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of the natural world, and letting the mind wander that has the ability to make anyone feel at ease. There are many well-documented benefits of getting out in nature, that—when combined with exercise or a fun activity like hiking, cycling, canoeing (or whatever floats your boat)—provide the perfect recipe for a happier and healthier life.
However, when winter hits, the drop in temperature is enough to make us all want to pour a bottomless cup of hot chocolate, curl up in our favourite blanket, and binge watch TV until spring rolls-back around and we can defrost into our active, sunshiney-selves again. While it’s incredibly tempting to do so, we’ve discovered a few interesting reasons why everyone should get outdoors this winter, plus some handy tips on how to make it happen.
Why should we be getting outside (when we’d prefer to hibernate)?
If you’re anything like us, the call of the great outdoors and epic winter adventures becomes too strong and we ditch the hot chocolate for wild winter days made better with cosy puffer jackets and good company. The cold, crisp air hits the lungs like an extra burst of oxygen and ice-cold swims or the promise of a good layer of fresh snow reminds us why winter is just as good as hot days spent by the beach.
Getting outside in winter can be amazing, but it’s the science behind it that really explains why we love it so much. A study conducted in 2019 by The University of Exeter found that out of 20,000 people, those who spent two hours a week in green spaces (local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits) were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological wellbeing than those who didn’t. A separate Harvard study found the potential benefits of spending more time outdoors were:
1. Your vitamin D levels will go up
2. You'll get more exercise
3. You'll be happier
4. Your concentration will improve
5. You may heal faster
How to feel at one with nature this winter
This research is all well and good, but what about getting yourself motivated? Sure, the idea of crisp winter air bringing good health is a wonderful concept, but it’s not always easy to put it into practice, especially when there’s hot chocolates and cosy blankets calling our names simultaneously.
Here are a few things that will get you motivated and prepared:
The right gear
Hiking up a snow-capped mountain is truly magical when you have the right gear on your side, but if you don’t, things can go south pretty quickly (namely your body temperature). Our latest range of outerwear was made to help you feel at one with the elements. Most of our jackets and coats are water and windproof so if it rains during your hike, it will be less of a hindrance and more of an adventure. They also feature down and insulation to keep you warm, but the addition of lightweight breathable fabrics with targeted ventilation means you can go hard without fear of overheating.
Bring the right crew
If your bestie would rather curl up on the couch and watch Tiger King, let them (and hey, no judgement). Instead, ask a friend from the gym or your adventure-loving cousin if they’d be open to a cold adventure. You want to make sure you’ve got people on board who really want to take part (and who will amp you up) and that you don’t feel the desire to pressure those who don’t want to.
Have an open mind
We’ve painted a pretty picture of what getting outside in the elements can look like, but it’s not always going to be perfect. Have an open mind to things going wrong, plans changing due to bad weather, and lack of motivation. On the other hand, have an open mind that you may just have the best day ever and you may never want to waste another winter weekend indoors again.
If you want to be at one with nature, you’ve got to respect it. That means taking only photos and leaving only footprints wherever you go, plus doing plenty of research about where you’re going so you stay safe and prepared.
Pack the right equipment
If you’re new to any type of sport or activity it’s important to do your research before you start, especially if it’s more on the extreme side like many winter sports are. A quick google search will tell you to know your route before heading on a hike and to take plenty of water, a well stocked first aid kit, a compass, spare layers, snacks, a fully charged phone, and the list goes on. Know what to put in your backpack is as important as choosing which buddy you’ll take along with you.
Check the weather forecast
An obvious, albeit important one if you’re new to a winter sport: check the weather forecast. If you’re heading out for a canoe, make sure there aren’t any turbulent storms predicted. Mother Nature works in mysterious ways, so if you’re in doubt don’t risk it.
Track the benefits
Take note of how you feel after you exercise outdoors. You might do this through an app like Strava, by taking happy videos as you go, or by literally writing down what happened and how it made you feel. That way, next time you’d rather stay inside and out of the wind and rain you can remind yourself of just how beneficial it will be for your wellbeing.
Taking small precautions and preparing yourself physically and mentally will ensure your winter adventures are just as good (even better) than your summer adventures.
So, here’s to feeling at one with nature this winter.