For those of us in the UK, we’ve seen a drop in temperatures over the last week as a cold snap has us firmly in its grip. After a reasonably mild December, it’s been a shock to the system for some as we remember how to layer up to go outside and try to stay warm. When it’s this cold, the temptation can be to stay inside but today we thought we’d have a look at five reasons why we should still be getting outside, even when it’s frosty out with a biting edge to the air.
It builds resilience
You know how much we love resilience, we do talk about it a lot! But that’s because it’s such an important quality to have and to work on in both ourselves and the young people in our lives. This one needs little explaining; when your fingers and toes are numb, it requires an element of gritting your teeth and digging deep to stay outside and not retreat to the warmth of our heated homes. But there’s so much to be gained by sticking with it and keeping a positive attitude throughout…as the next few reasons will show!
It gives a full experience of all four seasons
Being outside all year round, throughout all twelve months of the year, gives you the opportunity to really connect with the cyclical nature of what’s happening in the natural spaces around you. From the barren trees in winter to the exciting first leaf buds right through to the trees in full bloom and then the changing colours of autumn…there’s something really beautiful about consciously making an effort to stop and observe this happening in the world around us. For the young people in our lives, it holds immense benefit as it promotes connection with nature, aids their education, and allows them to adopt a better understanding of cyclical patterns that can occur within our lives.
It provides a sensory rich environment
Winter in a natural environment provides sensory experiences that other seasons just don’t. From observing your breath misting into fog as you breath to noticing the beauty of frozen leaves and twigs in the woods to the ever popular pursuit of finding frozen puddles to stamp on and then to listen to that satisfying cracking sound as the ice yields under your weight. The light holds a different quality in the winter and sounds seem to travel differently. These sensory explorations wouldn’t be ours to have if we stayed inside whenever it was cold.
It’s a great opportunity for more campfire cooking!
Ok, this one is Forest School specific but when it’s cold out and we have learners outside for hours at a time, the absolute best way to keep them warm is to keep their bellies full with freshly cooked meals over the fire. From stews and soups to bread and sweet treats, we love letting our imagination run wild as we think of new and delicious things to make over the fire…all in the name of keeping us warm of course!
It’s good for your body
A quick search will bring up a plethora of articles on the different benefits of being cold. Whilst we could look at cold water immersion and the benefits of that (which range from improved blood pressure and lower fat levels in your blood to decreased inflammation and a better tolerance to stress), even just getting outside in the cold (and remaining wrapped up!) can be a fantastic thing to do for our bodies. Being out when it’s chilly can increase our quality of sleep, reduce inflammation, give us a better appetite, increase fat loss and help with our mental health (sources here and here).
So I suppose the one question left is…what are you waiting for? Don’t let defrosting the car windshield or digging out all the gloves and hats put you off, wrap up warm, get outside and enjoy the benefits of doing so!
Author: Hannah Durdin, Content Officer & Forest School Leader
Date: Sunday 14th January 2024