The winter magic of snowy weather never seems to wear off. There’s something about opening your curtains to see the world outside dusted in white, your street transformed into a scene from a Christmas card, that can make even the most cynical of hearts soar. Since snow is only around for a short period of time, we might feel compelled to enjoy the moment and become more mindful as a result. When we spend more time in nature, we feel greater vitality and better physical health. This helps boost our sense of mental and emotional wellbeing.
Winter, with its dark mornings and long nights, isn’t known for its mood boosting properties. The colder months are often associated with seasonal affective disorder, a mental health condition that can leave you feeling low and lethargic. Seasonal affective disorder may be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during these shorter days. Psychologists suggest that snow is beneficial to our mental wellness.
After the excitement of the Christmas season, it’s completely normal to feel a little down this time of year, some call it the “January Blues.” Experts say that the lower levels of sunlight have a negative impact on our internal body clock. Less exposure to sunlight leads to diminishing levels of serotonin, which is an important factor in increasing or decreasing feelings of depression. Not getting enough sunlight and Vitamin D, has been shown to decrease our happiness, making us feel “down in the dumps.” A snowy environment can help you feel more alive. NYU researchers found that even twenty minutes spent outside in the snow can make us feel more energized, more positive, and improve our mental health. Snowy ground reflects 95% of all light according to a study done at Stockholm University. Brighter light is linked to a better mood.
I know that I’m happier and feel better after spending time outside, all year round. I took a teaching position last fall and have spent less time outside lately so I really look forward to the afternoons that I spend walking my dog. I was excited about having a “snow day” even though I really love teaching kindergarten. Early Friday morning, I was greeted by the most gorgeous snow scene. I felt an overwhelming quiet as I stepped outside to feed my chickens. I lingered outside most of the morning, filling bird feeders, shoveling, and sweeping the snow. I checked on my perennial garden beds blanketed with snow. I took pictures of my rosemary bushes adorned with tiny detailed Pom poms of snow. The stems of my Black Eyed Susan’s outlined in relief against the bright shining snow.
I dragged my fourteen year old French Bulldog on a walk, she was known to once run circles in our snowy yard, but in her old age she prefers her cozy bed by the fire. Coming home to a new book and a hot cup of tea were my reward for a morning spent in the snow.
A bright blanket of snow is a beautiful sight and highlights the colors and gifts of nature.
Kate Emery General is a retired chef/restaurant owner that was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming. Kate loves her grandchildren, knitting and watercolor painting. Kate and her husband , Matt are longtime residents of Cambridge’s West End where they enjoy swimming and bicycling.