Five Ways to Get Your Nature Fix This Winter
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Hiking is more than a good source of exercise. Hiking the trails and being out in nature has been proven to improve your mood, reduce stress, increase your creativity, and build self-confidence.
When I don’t get my regular nature fix, I often get moody and depressed. My hikes are a critical part of my mental and emotional wellbeing. When the days are short, and the nights are long, I need to get creative with my time to prioritize time outside.
Here are five tips to help you get your nature fix this winter:
Start a lunchtime walking group
Fitting in a workout during my lunch break can be a challenge. On a busy day it is easy to eat lunch at my desk, and before long I realize that I haven’t seen the sun in days. Enlisting co-workers to join you for a lunchtime walk can help encourage accountability and build a routine. Even 30 minutes outside can boost your productivity and increase your problem-solving skills.
To get the full benefits of being outside try to find a walking route with some trees and grass. And don’t forget to block out the time on your calendar so you don’t get pulled into any lunchtime meetings.
Try night hiking
Night hiking can be scary at first, but it has a lot of benefits. Wildlife is most active at night and you get to hear animal calls and have a good chance of seeing wildlife. Because hiking at night can be a bit more dangerous than hiking during the day I always hike with a partner and I never leave home without the ten essentials. If you want to ease into night hiking check out the moon phase calendar on the Old Farmer’s Almanac to plan a night hike on a night when there’s a full or new moon. If it’s a clear night with lots of moonlight, try to hike without a headlamp and use the light from the moon to guide you. Remember, the nighttime is also when large predators are most active, so you should hike in a group if you are in bear or cougar country.
Find a well-lit park for evening walks
Every Wednesday I have a standing appointment to walk with a friend in the evening. In the summer we walk through San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to the beach and back; it’s the highlight of my week. But when the sun goes down walking through the park doesn’t feel very safe. In the winter we change up our walking route so that we are walking in well-lit areas instead. We prefer to walk along parks or along dedicated walking paths, so we don’t need to worry about street traffic. If you walk along the street at night make sure to wear bright or reflective clothing and carry a small flashlight to make yourself visible to drivers who might otherwise have trouble seeing you at night.
Tend a garden
I’m not a morning person, so working out in the morning is out of the question. However, I’m happy to fit in an extra 15 minutes to sip my coffee outside and tend my patio garden. I live in the city, so I don’t have access to a large outdoor space. Instead, I use the quiet time in the morning to tend to my plants on my small fire escape garden. This small interaction with nature helps start my morning off right.
Walk to Work
If you take public transit to work, get off a stop or two earlier than you normally would and walk the extra distance to work. Even if you are in a dense urban environment you can find nature all around you. Turn off the podcasts, put your phone away, and try to unplug and disconnect from the commotion to appreciate what’s around you. See if you can spot pigeons hanging around fountains and take the time to notice if the trees are changing with the seasons.
Making small changes can have a positive impact on your mental health and physical wellbeing. Spending as little as 20 to 30 minutes in nature three days a week is enough to fight off nature-deficit disorder.
How will you get your nature fix this winter?
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