By February, many of us are tired of the endless chill of winter. We start to long for the long days of springtime with beautiful weather, warm sun, and the promise of happy outdoor gatherings and activities in nature.
Even though it is the shortest month of the year, we can sometimes think February feels like the most interminable month of the year. A leap day can feel like a leap year when you are wishing it was already April or May.
But even though we long for the coming warm months, we can still get ready on these chilly days. Starting your seeds for your garden inside can help you to channel that pent-up anticipation. You can dress in warm thermals or fleece-lined workout clothes for a jog on a trail. Getting outside is a mindset.
But it is a mindset that can improve your health. That down, sad feeling some of us get in the winter months is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and it can get better by getting outside. In fact, being outside also has positive effects on blood pressure and stress levels.
Getting Yourself Going (Even When It Is Cold)
Staying active with physical activity has a profound effect on physical and mental health. Studies show that being outdoors lowers stress, helps the cardiovascular system, and may even lengthen our lives.
When people conjure up images of physical activity, they might imagine sweaty, fit people working out in regimented ways. But healthy exercise is not buff bodies. It is how we move that improves our physical health, reduces the chances of developing health complications, improves our mood, and makes us feel better.
Too often, we do not feel we can exercise during the cold months of winter. This is simply not true. Going for a walk to the corner grocery is exercise. Doing laundry and cleaning the house is too. Exercise is what you make of it.
Practicing Mindfulness and Indoor Gardening as We Await Spring
Another great way to anticipate spring is by getting ready for all of the gardening it brings. Do you have a green thumb? If you like to grow lots of fruit and vegetables and take pride in your harvest, now is the time to start.
Yes, we are talking about seed starters; now is the time to get your garden growing.
Gardening is a great time to practice meditation. While you work in the dirt, you can let your mind go blank, focusing on nothing but the beauty of growing things. Reflect on the beauty of the world and creation, as you coax new plants to life.
If gardens are not your thing, maybe your yard is. Now is also the time you might think about trimming back the dead bushes in anticipation of them greening up again. You could also make sure your mowing equipment is in good working order.
The world may not be warm yet, but we can all feel the winds changing. Pretty soon spring will be upon us, the larks will gather to chirp in the trees, and our yards will be renewed with life once more.
One fun way to get ready for spring is by visiting one of the many national parks and seeing all that these public venues have to offer. Even though it is cold, you can still go to the visitors’ centers and museums, and even bundle up for the trails.
Getting ready for spring also gives you time to do a spring cleaning of your mind. You can start this season with a new beginning, fresh and renewed. Some ways to do this include:
- Writing in a journal, or starting a journal to record your thoughts, struggles, and accomplishments.
- Meditating or practicing yoga. This can leave your body limber for all the fun outdoor activities you will soon enjoy.
- Visiting an indoor arboretum or botanical garden. Being around growing things is a surefire way to get you ready for springtime.
And do not forget about nutrition. Taking care of your body should be at the top of your to-do list. While you are enjoying those winter root vegetables and squash, do not forget to start filling your meals with all the early spring and late winter fruits and vegetables appearing on shelves.
Outdoor Activities for Any Season
Even though it is still cold, we can still get ready for all of the springtime activities we enjoy. The lingering chill does not have to stop us from putting on warm, thermal, or fleece workout clothes and going outside for our favorite activities.
Many of our national parks, rivers, and monuments have ample opportunities for outdoor activities, including fishing. You can also look at your state parks for these venues. Fishing can help the park’s management control native fish populations.
If you like bicycling, you might consider a park, trail, or national forest for this activity as well. The trees shade you from the wind, which reduces the chill you feel. With insulated clothing, you can continue your favorite activity and stay warm.
Another activity, as we mentioned, is wearing warm clothing for a walk or a hike. Whether you trod through a historical landmark site or your local city trail, walking is a great way to burn calories and get you outdoors in nature.
No matter your activities, it is important that you know your limits. Plan your activities according to your ability. If you need to, stay close to a heated indoor area. And make sure you bring plenty of supplies of hot cocoa to sip when you take a break. Have fun!
In just a few weeks, the world will awaken to grasses greening, children’s laughter as they play outside, and the happy chirping of birds in trees. Just like so many of us, you are probably anticipating the spring renewal that is coming upon us all. The winter makes us all a little stir-crazy, and we are all itching for a chance to get outside. As an individual in recovery, you can focus pent-up energy on activities looking forward to spring, such as an indoor garden box starter to start plants inside, meditation to clear the mind, and bundling up safely for a short, brisk jog outside. For a jogging buddy or to talk, call your brothers at (801) 308-8898.