You know what gives me #joyatUofT? Being outside and beating the winter blues; whether I’m sledding, or taking a walk in the park.
However, lately, the slushy roads, the face numbing wind and the chill that has enveloped Toronto so tightly this winter has had me tucked away in my apartment with the heat cranked up and alone with my books more often than not. Going outside doesn’t seem particularly appealing. If you’re a wuss about the cold like me—you’re probably attempting to stretch your groceries out as long as you can and are momentarily considering starvation before forcing yourself to go shopping.
Having said that and despite my lack of affection for the cold, I still try to make it outside for a walk of considerable length every few days because being holed up inside can really instigate the winter blues.
Research indicates that we thrive mentally and emotionally by being close to Mother Nature.
For example, one study found that people are kinder and more charitable post-exposure to nature scenes1. Another study shows that moving closer to green spaces improves mental health immediately and lastingly2. Yet another has findings indicating that just having a plant in the office is associated with lower levels of stress and anxiety in workers3.
And if those studies aren’t compelling enough to get you outside, there’s also evidence that the natural environment can enhance cognitive abilities. Having a plant in the vicinity of your workspace can boost concentration, while exposure to the outdoors can improve memory performance and attention span by 20%! 4
So if you’re staring the winter blues straight in the eye, try going to a park for a walk! Even if there’s 5 inches of snow and I don’t want to be bothered with putting my boots on, I still make myself do it because my head feels clearer and I usually feel less fatigued afterwards. So, dress for the weather and get outside for the sake of your mental, emotional and physical health!
Keeping in mind that greenery contributes to our mental and emotional health and well-being and that we have a symbiotic relationship with Mother Nature, it is essential that we take care of our environment in order to enhance those health benefits. So before you crank that heater all the way up to temperatures that feel more like a Florida vacation spot, think about the impact it will have on the environment (never mind your skin) and consider putting on a sweater instead.
Or you can make it a #greenerUofT by joining the “It’s Greener in Here” campaign.
Does the outside bring you #joy@UofT? I’d love to hear how?