By Calum Robertson, March 8 2019 —
Many of us loathe the winter months. They bring the awfulness of daily commutes, the struggle to stay warm and the sense of depression from grey skies and early evenings. The urge to spend as much time inside as possible seems rational. After all, who among us could possibly have fun in this frozen, inhospitable wasteland? And why would anyone want to?
You’re better off braving the cold outdoors instead of squirreling away deep into the warmth of buildings. Spending time in nature has been shown to help reduce anxiety, increase the flow of ideas and improve your mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very real condition that can easily strike during winter months on campus. If a feeling of sadness strikes, it may help to bundle up and venture outside.
Given the frigid conditions, it may be wise to not dilly-dally — keep moving, keep your blood pumping, then head back indoors when your extremities start to tingle or go numb. Many a parent has advised their kid to “go get some air.” Even now, that’s still useful advice. A quick 10-minute walk around campus might help you return to your notes with a fresh perspective.
The sensation of cold air filling your nostrils is incredibly refreshing. Winter provides a unique landscape, one that speaks of space and solitude. The snow-covered ground seems to extend forever. Sometimes, we all just want to get away for a moment. Winter by its very nature provides that. The outdoors are a quiet space, excellent for contemplation or to breathe a frosty sigh of relief — or exasperation, depending on when in the semester it is.
The indoors can become so constant and familiar. Sometimes, a dash of the different can help spark the mind. Changing your location might help you get out of unhealthy rhythms. The white snow and expansive skies break the indoor patterns of close walls and tight desks. That space can provide inspiration, relief and a feeling of release.
It’s all well and good to spend five minutes standing outside before the shivers get you but your enjoyment of being outside can be heightened if you’re active. Movement means warmth — doing something active also gives your mind time and space to focus on something else. Endorphins are released to help break up your mundane day.
Wondering what to do outside? The University of Calgary campus is located near Nose Hill Park with plenty of trails and woods for you to wander, if a nature walk is your speed. For more organized fun, such as hiking or snowshoeing, check out the Outdoor Centre on campus. Remember, the outdoors are just as important to your overall well-being, both mental and physical, as a cozy blanket and indoor warmth.