Winter Benefits in the Forest Preserves
February is here. For those of you that miss bright green foliage and warm sunshine, February may seem like a drag. Just another month to patiently wait for sunnier days. Winter is breathtaking and it's just as vital to get out and explore mother nature in the cold months as it is any other time of the year. Nature is always supporting and giving to us, even when we may not notice it. Just because we may not particularly enjoy the cold temperatures, we must still appreciate all that nature does for us in the cold months. Let's dive deeper into the benefits of exploring a wintery forest.
1. It will boost your mood.
Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? About 5 percent of adults in the US experience SAD. During winter there is less sunshine and therefore, a lack of vitamin D. We humans need vitamin D in order to build and maintain healthy bones. Let's not forget the sun still shines in the winter and it's important we get outside and feel the sun on our face! Sunlight raises our serotonin levels and can help relieve depression and anxiety. Try walking around outside for at least 15 minutes and notice the boost of positivity you may feel afterwards!
2. It's a great way to practice mindfulness.
Taking a break from your digital life, silencing your phone, and going on a short walk is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. Take a walk around a forest preserve and notice the life humming along around you. Squirrels running across the snow, birds briskly flying over the trees, and branches swaying in the breeze. Taking in the natural world around you will create a sense of peace and gratitude.
3. It can improve creativity and focus.
Nature's link to creativity has been studied for a long time now. We know that walking around outside can boost our creativity and help us feel inspired. Next time you're struggling to brainstorm, go for a short walk and noticed how different you feel when you sit back down. Studies have also found a direct link between children with ADHD and how they are able to focus more after spending time outdoors. More specifically, children tend to be more focused after spending time in natural areas versus concreate spaces. The natural world provides us with endless inspiration!
4. It can cure cabin fever.
Devoting a small amount of time to be present in the stillness of a winter forest can help you escape. In these cold months, we find ourselves stuck in small spaces with the same people. We may even find ourselves struggling to deal with difficult emotions on top of a lack of vitamin D. It can be enough to make anyone feel, well... blah. Next time you are feeling stuck simply bundle up and spend some time in the peaceful winter forest. After all, nature is the best company!
It's standard for us humans to crave warmth and sunshine, but let's not forget to appreciate and study the beauty of winter. Without the winter, we cannot appreciate the summer. Next time you step foot in a forest preserve this month, mentally take note of what aspects of winter you are grateful for. Happy exploring!