Keeping a Connection With Nature Over Winter
Like many of you, I’ve had a lot on my mind recently. As summer gives way to autumn, which in turn fades to winter, it often causes us to look inwards. Some of us simply begin to focus on the changes we’ve experienced ourselves over the past year, whilst others struggle with full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). That feeling of heaviness that leaves so many of us feeling sluggish whenever winter arrives can be crippling for some people, but it’s finally being acknowledged as a recognised mental disorder.
This year it has particularly kicked my arse and that, in combination with some things I’ve been struggling to come to terms with in my personal life has hindered the amount of energy I’ve been able to dedicate to this blog over the past few months. I’ve been compiling a list of things to keep me sane over the winter months and recently asked my followers over on Twitter to share their own ways that they like to keep a connection with nature during this largely disliked season in preparation for this (long overdue) post. Hopefully, they’ll give you a little inspiration and motivation to keep your relationship with the great outdoors alive, even when it’s cold and wet outside.
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering with SAD or depression please take a look at this article from Mind for more ways you can help yourself or others: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Both @BTO_Cornwall and @naturalistdara suggested taking part in this project. In their own words, the garden birdwatch is “a network of 13,000+ garden birdwatchers and citizen scientists, spread across Britain and Ireland” organised by The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).
The BTO is an amazing charitable research institute that combines both professional and citizen science to help understand the effects of environmental change on wildlife. The valuable work they do helps inform government environmental policy, and you can get involved from the comfort of your home with a cup of your favourite warming beverage… What could be better?!
Enjoy a Winter Sunrise
Suggested by @scruffybum who made the point that now that this is the one time of year we can enjoy a sunrise without having to get out of bed too early! Wake up, wrap up, and head to the garden to watch the sun come up for the perfect start to your day.
If you don’t make it out of bed for sunrise you can still enjoy the winter skies. As @ashortstay tweeted, “it is easy to assume winter is mostly flat and grey but if you keep watching the sky it’s amazing to see the light change day to day.”
Take a Walk
Get those thermals on and head to one of your favourite locations for a walk. I know, I know… it’s hard to find the motivation to leave the house at this time of year (especially if you’re like me and work from home) but it can do wonders for your mood.
@MaidinDartmoor said that her favourite way to keep her relationship with nature in check over winter is to wrap up warm and take a walk on the moors armed with a flask of hot chocolate, whilst @janepursey heads to the Somerset levels whatever the weather. @zany_zigzag reminded me that it doesn’t have to be a long walk and that even braving the cold for a quick wander around your neighbourhood can help you feel better. @cloud_katy likes to take a “bracing walk by the sea” which is a great way to blow out those cobwebs and clear your mind!
If walking isn’t your thing, why not dust off your bicycle and head out for a cycle in the countryside like @paulharvey14980? You’ll get to enjoy the outdoors whilst also keeping fit, and it’s no secret that exercise is brilliant for depression. Whatever gets you outside this winter, @LeeTysoe reminded me how relaxing it can be to take a moment to just stop and listen to the sounds of nature around you.
There are plenty of nature-themed craft projects you can do whilst staying cosy indoors this winter. One of my favourites is pyrography ( using found dried wood. If you aren’t feeling that adventurous why not try pressing some Autumn leaves or creating a nature calendar for the year ahead, as suggested by @theHALLofEINAR. You can use it to plan any trips you’d like to take – why not head to Pinterest for some inspiration – or to make sure you don’t miss anything, like the bluebells in Spring.
Get into the festive mood by making some rustic Christmas decorations out of collected twigs. Break out the hot glue gun or tie 5 together in the shape of a star for a pretty tree topper, or glue them down flat in order of size, creating triangles for twiggy Christmas tree cards. You could also string twigs up to create mobiles to hang some of your other decorations from. I’ve created a Pinterest board with inspiration for winter nature crafts.
Organise Your Nature Photos
@irishflyfisher likes to use the winter to go back through their photos from the previous year and attempt to ID anything they previously hadn’t managed to. I think this is a fantastic idea! Whilst I try my hardest to put an ID to things as soon as I put them on the computer, there’s always a few that slip through the net. Whatever you photograph, taking the time to look back at your shots with fresh eyes is great for discovering hidden gems. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve fallen in love with a photograph that I’d previously discarded due to it not being what I had in mind at the time of shooting. Why not create a retrospective nature journal or scrapbook featuring some of your favourite shots? Go on, reminisce about some of your favourite experiences from the past year!