The second week in January is often the true start for many in settling into intentions that truly reflect what we can expect of ourselves, commit to scheduling and prioritizing in our personal, family and work schedules. The rush to do a complete 180 upon embarking into the New Year can actually have a fairly paralyzing effect if we jump in with unrealistic expectations of change. Instead of trying to reinvent yourself this year, we encourage you to focus on one thing each month that you can do to better care for yourself, whether that is to drink more water, go to bed with time to read, finding ways to move your body that you enjoy, taking a technology break or rising five minutes earlier to set an intention or read an affirmation. Coming out of another holiday season which might not have been what you hoped for, expected or planned combined with a cold snap unlike many have seen in years we need to commit to any small moments that create peace or joy. With the thawing that is upon us this week, an exceptional idea would be to head outdoors for a walk, building a snowman or snow fort, or getting creative with ice crafts. Spending time in nature is closely linked to positive benefits for our mental health. A ten minute walk will do the trick but if you are up for an afternoon or cross country skiing or heading to a local outdoor rink that will work too!
Mental Health Benefits of spending time outside
In a review of the research, Gregory Bratman, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, and colleagues shared evidence that contact with nature is associated with increases in happiness, subjective well-being, positive affect, positive social interactions and a sense of meaning and purpose in life, as well as decreases in mental distress (Science Advances, Vol. 5, No. 7, 2019).
“Taking a winter walk or building a snowman in your yard can offer a variety of physical health benefits too! One of these is the Vitamin D we absorb from the sun. Humans require Vitamin D for bone health and disease prevention.
Spending time outdoors in the winter can also help with your mental health! Many people may notice a shift in their mood or sleep schedule in the winter, sometimes referred to as the “winter blues.” Something as simple as taking a short walk each day or watching the birds from a park bench can drastically improve your mood and make the cold winter days brighter and happier!” (Marian University)Marian University, Indianapolis
Here is a list of fun family friendly activities to do outside to embrace or Canadian Winter!
- Try renting skis or skates: There are ski hills, cross country ski tracks and many outdoor rinks around
- Build a snowman: A challenge would be to make a “snow-you” (decorate and style the snowman after yourself!)
- Make a fort or art pieces from ice and snow: We have an abundance of snow outside!
- Go for a nice walk around: Walk your dogs, walk with your families, enjoy how pretty winter can be!
- Tobogganing: a favorite for all, after a fun afternoon or evening of
- Have a Campfire: Keep warm while getting fresh air, and who doesn’t like the smell of campfire!
How the SHINE team embraces the winter!
Program manager Melody loves to go for walks outside through the trees. She is always grateful for the nature around her especially in places that are quiet and serene. During one of her outdoor walks, this video was taken of her and a chickadee friend!
SHINE Coach Mira decided to make snow fort this January to block the wind so that she could have campfires outside! From her perspective: “You’re never to old to make a fort!”. She even decorated with her Christmas tree and a miniature snowman! Mira loves to make things fun and enjoys spending winters walking her dog Winston and curling!
During the winter months, SHINE coach Falon and her family are busy with many outdoor family activities. The go on family winter runs, go ice skating, make crafts and forts, and more! Falon and her family sure use the winter to spend quality time together making outdoor memories!
SHINE Coach Erica is always outside on the farm. During the winter she needs to get outside no matter the weather to keep everything running. Even though she is busy tending to the farm and the animals, she loves to spend even more time outside whether that means spending quality time with her dog or having some horse cuddles!
Our SHINE coaches are animal lovers! SHINE coach Taylor does not have her own horse but loves to spend time around horses! Animals are great for helping us get outside.
The SHINE Coaches do want you to remember to take care of yourself when outside! Plan for your time spent outside by packing layers and bringing food and water if necessary!
References: Thank you to Science Advances & Marian University for the wonderful information!