Winter is rough. Speaking as someone who suffers from extreme anxiety, which seems to be much worse in the cold sunless months, I don’t necessarily look forward to Winter. Getting out and about is much more difficult when everything is dark and dreary. The cold tends to take over, exposing everything in its midst to a bleak dark slumber. Studies do show that depression and anxiety increase in the sunless months and I definitely feel it. I don’t wish Anxiety on my worst enemy. I am not saying that Winter is the cause but I feel an immense difference in my mental health during the winter vs summer months. However, I have found that even in the midst of cold agonizing darkness there are ways to escape.
On average, Americans spend about 5% percent of their day outside. As low and surprising as that number seems, I believe it, especially in the winter time. We stay indoors to escape the cold and to keep from being consumed by it. We come home from work in the dark and can’t be blamed for not wanting to go out in it afterwards. But I believe staying cooped up has a vast effect on our health. Studies show that just 5 minutes out in nature causes your heart rate to slow, your muscles to relax and your heightened emotions to simmer. Just 5 minutes! Work, technology, inactivity and life cause stress and simply stepping outside and breathing in that cold fresh air will relieve some of those feelings. I feel anxious quite a lot; at work, at home, and in the dark. But when out on a mountain somewhere that feeling is nonexistent. I experience healing even if just for that moment. It is a great escape.
And venturing outside in the Winter can contribute to that healing even if it is cold. Winter is still not my favorite season, but the season has grown on me. If you have the right equipment and clothing you will experience what they might call a winter wonderland. It really is a wonder to see everything frozen as if in time, blanketed with snow. The mountains turn blue when they were once brilliant colors of green. It is a different kind of comfort to know that all the beautiful vegetation that is frozen over and essentially clinging to life will revive and thrive, blossoming and blooming, returning from a once difficult and dreary, yet beautiful time. All must go through seasons of cold and bleakness in order to overcome and thrive. All one can do during those times is find ways to cope and escape. Get outdoors and discover the beauty within the darkness.