For many of us, spending time in the great outdoors helps us to focus, rebalances us and restores a sense of calm. This feeling has become increasingly important during lockdown, especially when many of us are working from home. However, we know that the winter months can make the idea of spending time outdoors less appealing. You’ve probably looked out of a window at 5pm this week and told the person nearest to you that you "can’t believe how dark it is". But did you know that spending time outdoors does wonders for your physical and mental health? You can read more about the benefits of spending time in nature on the Mind Mental Health Charity website here. That's why we wanted to share with you some of our top tips for getting up and out of it so you can enjoy spending more time outdoors and resist the temptation to curl up on the sofa and binge-watch Netflix all winter.
One common reason we put off doing things is due to a lack of time. If you think you would benefit from getting outdoors more but don't think you have enough time - think again! Try planning to go outside for small breaks. Spending time outdoors doesn’t have to take up your entire day. Take a short walk on your lunch break or spend some time in your garden before, during or after a meal. You can also save time by planning ahead. Why not pack a small bag with some outdoor essentials and keep it near the front door so it is easy to grab last-minute. You could include a picnic blanket, sun cream, cereal bars, a water bottle and anything else you think you might need. Multi-tasking is also a great way to make sure you're getting more time outdoors. Try to combine chores, exercise and outdoor time by running your errands on foot instead of driving. If you walk to work, consider taking a more scenic route or you could skip the gym for an outdoor run instead.
Early mornings are going to be your friend during these winter months! As it’s now darker an hour earlier in the evenings, that means it’s important to make the most of the light in the mornings. Getting out for a walk or a bike ride before work is a great way to make the most of the morning light, especially if you know you won't have any more free time until the dark evenings. Early morning activity is also a great way to kick start your day and can help with productivity and focus - perfect for those of us working from home! With all of that said, the dark evenings don’t have to put a stop to you spending some quality time outside, in fact, you could embrace the opportunity and make the most of the night sky. If you are lucky enough to head out for a late night walk on a clear evening, you might even be able to take some great photos of the stars. Just be sure you have the correct safety equipment if you are venturing out in the dark, such as a reflective vest and a torch.
Most of us don't particularly enjoy being outside when the temperature drops, however with some preparation there's no need to hibernate all winter long! When outside, make sure you wear several layers of clothing as the heat that gets trapped between the layers helps keep you warm. Make sure to cover your head, feet and hands as these areas lose heat faster than the rest of your body. It is important to keep hydrated even when it's cold as staying properly hydrated means your skin won’t get dry and cracked as easily. You can combine hydration with keeping warm by drinking to warm beverages (have a look at our favourite hot drinks from around the world here). Even if the only time you get outdoors in 10 minutes in the morning to enjoy your morning brew in the garden, we promise it will do you the world of good.
If you find that you lack motivation to get outdoors, we recommend trying to incorporate something new and exciting into your outside time. You could try simply walking a different route, finding a new park to visit or explore the area around where you live. It can be fun to make a game out of, why not make a list of things to spot on your walk so that you can keep track of them? You could even do this with a friend, simply create a list together and when you each go on your walks be sure to tick items off the list and share them with one another at the end of the week. Depending on current covid restrictions, you could even do this in person with a friend if they live locally. If you have a dog, try taking them to a new area for their walkies each day, or you could even use your daily dog walk to teach them a new trick. You could also use your outdoors time to learn a new skill, whether its juggling, skipping, yo-yo-ing, hula hooping - anything that gets you outside and having fun!
We hope you found these tips useful and you're feeling inspired to spend some more time appreciating the great outdoors! What is your favourite way to spend some time in nature? Let us know in the comments below.