During the autumn and winter months, as the darkness encroaches upon us earlier each day and the weather turns colder, it can be tempting to avoid the outdoors. Yet, in so doing, we also cut ourselves off from nature and the many benefits which it can bring to us for our health and mental wellbeing. The key, is to learn to embrace the weather and change our attitude towards it.
Deterred by the Weather
On the whole, we are not often taught to enjoy the weather. Very often, we are taught instead to describe or regard weather in simple terms, such as “good” or “bad”. Generally, sunny, warm weather is considered to be good; whereas cold, wet weather is regarded as bad. For the most part, we tend to be deterred by what we consider to be “bad” weather. The idea of going outside and spending time in nature can become unappealing when we consider that it may also come with the prospect of added mud and dirt. Of course, the dominant factor is often the temperature. When it is cold, we have a greater tendency to stay indoors where it is warmer.
But perhaps this year, of all years, we should make the effort to begin to embrace the outdoors in all its types of weather. As more lockdowns and restrictions are introduced throughout the United Kingdom, indoor meetings become increasingly impossible. Moreover, we are reminded that the rate of transmission (not only for COVID-19, but also the flu and other viruses) increase in indoor settings.
Rather than be deterred by the cold and wet weather, what if we learn to adapt and embrace it? In so doing, we open ourselves up to the possibility of learning more about the natural environment we live in, as well as providing ourselves with further spaces in which to fully breathe. Taking this one small step can also help us to socialise with others in outdoors settings, thereby supporting our wellbeing and reducing the likelihood of isolation and loneliness.
Embrace the Weather
In the first instance, enjoying the weather requires appropriate clothing. Make sure that you invest in appropriate winter attire, such as a good-quality waterproof coat. A warm coat with a good hood can make all the difference when it comes to being outdoors in wet and windy weather. Invest too in appropriate footwear, especially if you are anticipating going on walks through woodlands or terrain which may become slippery and muddy during the coming months. Sturdy walking boots or wellies can be useful additions to your wardrobe.
Equipping yourself with clothing and footwear that you are confident will keep you warm and enable you to continue to access the outdoors can make a big psychological difference in how you view the weather. Once you know that you are prepared for all types of weather, you are more likely to take a chance and actually go outdoors. Overcoming this first hurdle can be the key to unlocking the outdoors in winter for you and your family.
The second aspect, and perhaps the hardest one to achieve, is to rest your mindset and approach to different types of weather. Instead of viewing these as simply “good” and “bad”, try instead to approach different weather condition with the same curiosity and potential for discovery that children do.
View the different weather conditions as an opportunity to make new discoveries about your local and familiar outdoor locations. Take the opportunity to explore how walking in your favourite woodland differs when it is raining compared to a sunny day. How does the weather impact on your mood? How does the familiar setting change in the different weather conditions? What smells are brought to fore? What is revealed that once was hidden?
This week we invite you to begin your journey of embracing all types of weather. Take a walk outside, if possible, in your local nature reserve. Whatever the weather, make a commitment to go, ensuring that you are wearing appropriate clothing and footwear.
Observe how it feels. Instead of fighting the weather conditions, try to embrace them. How does the rain feel as it falls on your skin? How does your body react to a gust of wind? How you feel as your squelch in mud? What sounds do you notice?
Take a moment to be still and focus on your breathing. How does it differ to breathe in the space in the rain compared to the sunshine, in the cold compared to the heat?
If you have children, it can be particularly enjoyable to take a walk as a family. Children will usually naturally embrace all weather types far more readily than adults. Take your lead from them. Allow yourself to approach the different types of weather conditions from the view of new possibilities and discoveries.