I seem to be reading more more about how nature is good for our health. There is more research, organisations are dedicating themselves to promoting the health benefits of the natural world & as we share more of our own stories on social media it becomes apparent that many of us have been healed by our connection with the natural world. It makes me feel really positive that this is happening.
The flip side of this can be that in winter, when we don’t get to spend so much time outside our health can suffer. I have experienced depression a few times in my life & a number of things helped me to get through it but I do think the main factor was nature. Walking in the woods, watching birds, sitting by a river or just watching the clouds from a window are all soothing to me. However, when we have short grey days when it never really gets light it can be difficult to draw solace from the natural world. I used to go overseas for winter in order to avoid these dark months but now I stay here & have learned to find small things to keep me going.
One of the most wonderful things about the natural world in winter is the trees. I love them when they are covered in bright new leaves resplendent in their green robes but in winter we get to see their skeletons, they are exposed. The shapes & textures of winter trees is endlessly fascinating. They are still colourful with different bark decorated with moss & lichens. Birds are more easy to spot among the bare branches. A few days ago I watched 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers chasing each other through birch & scots pine. They looked almost tropical with those flashes of red & white. Winter trees have a desolate beauty which is every bit as captivating as their green summer canopies. The low winter sun perfectly illuminates their upper branches as they sway in the wind.
I love taking photos of winter trees. The light is more subtle & golden at this time of year. I can capture details which would be impossible to see in summer. You can also see more of how they live together, the spaces between them show a close existence & recent tree research has shown that in woodlands they co-operate & help each other. They remind me of penguins huddling together against the cold.
Nature can be a great source of inspiration & calm all year round. There is comfort in its continuity & circularity. In winter many things are hibernating, waiting for the opportunities of spring they conserve their energy. We can be like that & take the opportunity to rest but we don’t need to completely hibernate. This time of year is an opportunity for calm slowness. We can watch the plants & animals that we can’t see in the abundance of summer. We can take the time to learn something new, nourish our souls & spend time with the ones we love.
Animals plants find a way to thrive all year round, no matter what — its such a positive message. If you suffer from low mood, depression or SAD nature can be the best medicine. Even if you can’t get out you could put a bird feeder which you can see from a window & enjoy having some new visitors to your garden.