Crunch, slosh and plop – snow walking

From the Covid-19 diaries: 24 January 2021

Isn’t it great when the snow finally falls on a weekend?

On Sunday many of us in the UK, woke up to a sky full of falling snowflakes, filling the air like an army of small butterflies.

And that wonderful sound. A blanket of quiet, with only muffled noises of cars heard in the distance.

In the bleak mid-winter,
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

One of my favourite hymns – In the Bleak Mid-Winter by Christina Rossetti

Like many, I’ve been bogged down recently with trying to motivate a child who doesn’t want to their school work at home. As much as I love my family, I was desperate this weekend to have time away from them, so I could recharge myself and change my world view.

By the time I’d got out for my walk, the snow was already starting to melt. I left my husband supervising my two children playing in the snow at home, and set off for the small woods, close to where I live, curious to see what a snowy woodland would look like.

My senses came alive

I wasn’t at all disappointed. In fact, my first thought “this is like walking in the rain”! It was a super sensory experience, as soon as I crossed from the little bridge into the nature reserve.

All I could hear was the ‘drip, drip’ of the snow falling from the trees and shrubs around me. There were still swathes of snow on the branches, but most of it was on fast-defrost as the winter sun burned through the grey sky.

As I went further into the woods, I felt my mood shift. I started to wonder ‘why does walking in the snow feel more uplifting than walking in the rain?’

A decent dusting of snow still on the ground

Is it to do with the light? Or that snow, when it first falls, brings to mind those happy childhood memories? Having fun in the snow, building a snowman and enjoying the moment? Or do I just need time away from everyone?

Certainly the light reflecting off the snow could have been a factor. The ‘snow glow’ made me feel more alert and brightened my mood as I noticed my surroundings.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and eye colour

When I got home, I went online to do some research into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition first described by Dr. Norman Rosenthal in the 1980s, who had pioneered light therapy as a treatment for it.

A 2014 survey reported that 29 per cent of adults experience SAD at this time of the year. For eight per cent of them the symptoms are acute, while the remaining 21% report symptoms often referred to as the ‘winter blues’. For many, this condition can be serious and debilitating, impacting all areas of life.

And according to the findings, women are 40 per cent more likely than men to experience symptoms of the condition, and over half (57 per cent) of adults say their overall mood is worse in winter compared to summer.

Eye colour could be a factor

My search took me to a 2018 study about how your eye colour may influence your susceptibility to experience SAD. The results showed that those with darker or brown eyes, were more likely to feel the ‘winter blues’, than those with light or blue eyes. The researchers suggested that the retina of people with lighter eye colours may be able to process more light, than those with darker eye colours.

Some of the light-sensitive retina cells also send signals to the hypothalamus in the brain, the area which regulates temperature, hunger and sleep. A person with a darker iris needs higher levels of light to achieve the same response in the hypothalamus, which could result in depression.

But I have lighter (green) eyes, so maybe SAD isn’t the reason I feel overwhelmed? Although I could resonate with some of the characteristics of SAD, which includes low mood, irritability and lethargy.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern. The episodes of depression tend to occur at the same time each year, usually during the winter. As with other types of depression, the two main symptoms of SAD are a low mood and a lack of interest in life. Sufferers may also be less active than normal and sleep more.

The NHS definition of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Covid and wellbeing

If it’s not SAD affecting me, is it just Covid-19 taking its toll on my wellbeing? We are going through a lockdown over winter.

Who knows, but I’ll take a walk in the snowy woods any day, if it leaves me feeling brighter and happier!

I hope you got a chance to get out into the snow too. I wonder how it made you feel?

The Weather Channel and YouGov. October 2014. Impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder Twice as High as Previous Reports
Workman L, Akcay N, Reeves M and Taylor S. 2018. Blue Eyes Keep Away the Winter Blues: Is Blue Eye Pigmentation an Evolved Feature to Provide Resilience to Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Can a walk in the snow lift your mood?

In January 2021, I wrote a blog about walking in the snow, that I never published – perfectionism got the better of me!

Three months later, I get a second chance. The snow has reappeared (in April!) and I find myself reflecting again on how snow brightens my mood.

Snow in Spring

Today it’s Monday, and as I draw the curtains, I’m surprised to see snow outside! I’d forgotten snow was forecast for overnight. My first word is ‘Wow!’ but then I say my youngest child’s name, knowing she will be so happy to have a second chance to play in the snow.

To explain a little, last time it snowed, it took us ages to get out of the house. By that time, the snow was melting fast. This time, I approach the day differently. I wake her up so she has plenty of time to get out and enjoy it.

I sit downstairs to write, wondering about second chances and whether snow in Spring will feel different to Winter snow?

Different feelings in different seasons

In January, we were in lockdown and my mood was much lower. We felt hemmed in. Our moods were dipping, with Christmas over and it being the depths of Winter. I was also struggling with schooling at home and not making enough time for myself.

“I was desperate this weekend to have time away from them, so I could recharge myself and change my world view.”

From Crunch, slosh and plop blog written on 27 January 2021

This time, I consciously waited a while, before I went for a walk in the same woodland that I visited in January. Again, the snow was already in fast-thaw.

Would it be the same?

In some ways, yes, it was. My senses came alive again, with the sound of the snow melting and dripping off the trees, the splosh of slush and mud under my feet and the coolness in the air.

A magpie finds some food, while the melting snow leaves behind a trail of puddles in the woods

“My first thought was ‘this is like walking in the rain’! It was a super sensory experience, as soon as I crossed the little bridge into the nature reserve. ”

From Crunch, slosh and plop blog written on 27 January 2021

But this time, I saw the woods with fresh, different eyes. I’m practising being more mindful when taking photographs, so maybe that’s why I felt more alert and aware today?

All I could hear was the drip, drip of the snow falling from the trees and shrubs around me. Yes, there were still swathes of snow on the branches, but most was on fast-defrost as the winter sun burnt through the grey sky.”

From Crunch, slosh and plop blog written on 27 January 2021

As I often do on my walks, I slowed down my pace and turned my attention to what’s around me. It’s Spring so I soon tune into the loud birdsong and tweeting in the trees. The sounds of a woodpecker knocking’ on a hollow tree echoes in the distance.

So many robins fly around or appear on the path, picking over the soil to find tasty grubs. I take in the patterns from the melting snow and notice light dustings of snow around me.

Wellbeing through nature

In the new year, the woodland was bare with little greenery. I found myself wondering why my mood was lifting as I walked. Was it the snow or the circumstances we were in at the time?

Today the woodland feels different. It’s lush and greener – the bluebells and wood sorrel are coming into flower and the space feels brighter and more alive.

The sun tries to break through, like it did in Winter, but this time, the warmth is coming back. As I write and reflect later on my walk, I realise how much my mood has shifted since January. I feel more positive again, more ready to do new things that bring me joy.

Fresh starts and second chances

Today is also the first day when many UK businesses are re-opening, plus it’s still the Easter school holidays.

So once again, gratitude comes into play.

Today became a second chance day. A day to consciously slow down and enjoy the wonders of nature as if I were a child again.

To find joy in the snow and realise that second chances don’t come along very often, so you have to seize them while you can!

Isn’t it amazing how a change of seasons and circumstances can make such a difference?

I’m going to publish that January snow blog too! Done is better than perfect…

To find out more about my natural mindfulness sessions in Berkshire, check out my Shop for new Spring dates.

Finding natural joy in an upside down world

A woodland with a dark blue cloudy sky and brown scrubland, winter sunshine on the bare trees tops makes them appear golden.
The late afternoon winter sun at Highwood nature reserve in Earley, Reading [Copyright: Nature Works Wonders]

The third Monday of January is often referred to as ‘Blue Monday’ and this got me thinking recently about joy – how it’s easily lost and how tuning into nature you can help you find it.

You see this month I’ve been in a reflective mood. For me, the time between Christmas and New Year is for rest, a chance to reset and restart the New Year afresh.

I’ve also been reviewing what I do and who it serves (more on those another day) and most importantly, does my work bring me joy?

In pursuit of joy

If you’ve watched Inside Out, the children’s film, you’ll know that Joy, the emotion, is one of the leading characters. She’s the positive one – the emotion that ‘lights you up.’

The film focuses on the five basic emotions of an 11 year old girl named Riley – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger – and how they control her actions. If you’ve not seen the film, I’d recommend it highly, whatever your age.

I haven’t watched the film for a while, but the word ‘joy’ keeps appearing to me, in articles I read and conversations with friends. I love a bit of synchronicity.

Whether it’s the ongoing pandemic or my struggles balancing ‘school’ with family and work, I realised recently that I’d lost my ‘joy’.

But I didn’t want to tell people. I didn’t want to admit I was finding life hard. I’m an introvert – I don’t like a lot of attention and I don’t always want to share or admit how I truly feel.

But I’m sharing this now because I want you to know who I truly am.

One of my core values is authenticity and if I’m not being honest with you, well then, I’m also not being true to myself either.

Living in a topsy-turvy world

I want you to know that it’s OK if you feel something similar. It’s hard to step into that place and feel all the emotions around it. I struggle with this too, often on a daily basis.

Sometimes, the bravest thing you can do

is to just show up

Brené Brown

I’ve found it hard to stay positive in these darker days. Some days I’m just muddling through. It’s a topsy-turvy world out there!

But life carries on. The world keeps turning. I’ve realised that when you live life ‘in tune’ with nature, there will always be seasons and cycles.

And some cycles of life are almost predictable, like the ‘force of gravity’ my youngest is currently learning about – ‘what goes up, must come down!’

I’m listening now as Earth’s gravity pulls me down to her core. I’m taking baby steps to rekindle my joy and boost my mental health. Surely the only way now is up?

Going to ground

So the other weekend, I literally got my hands in the ground to (finally) plant out some new bulbs. It felt great to work in the earth again. And the right time to try out some new essential oils to support me emotionally. Wild Orange is currently lifting my mood.

This quiet time has also made me realise that I’ve come full circle. My ‘why’ remains the same as before, and feels even more important this year:

To reconnect people with the beauty and wonder of nature

so they will want to protect the world for future generations.

NAture Works WONDERS

And as the days go by, I’ve started turning my attention outwards again. Looking up a little more. I’m noticing how the winter sun makes the trees glow gold. I’m finding joy in the small things under my foot, on the days when I tend to look downwards.

I even saw my first daffodil and snowdrop of 2021 earlier this week. Spring will be here before we know it.

And in the end, even the gratitude has returned. It feels good to simply be alive.

Stay well and safe everyone.

Do contact me if you’d like to go on a 1-to-1 mindful walk in nature or explore how essential oils can help you through these difficult times.

Getting back to nature with essential oils

Girl smelling lavender flowers

Did you know I use dōTERRA essential oils to support me emotionally and physically?

Until this year, I knew very little about essential oils. But I’ve been curious about them for ages, so decided to try them out as a ‘natural’ health option for myself and my family.

And the fragrance of them – well, who doesn’t love the scent of pure essential oils? Wild orange is my current favourite. It so uplifting and smells AMAZING!

So who and what is dōTERRA?

Based in the US, dōTERRA is the largest essential oils company in the world. They supply oils extracted and distilled from plants grown and harvested in partnership with farmers from around the world. dōTERRA is Latin for ‘gift of the earth’.

As ‘medicinal grade’ oils, dōTERRA essential oils are verified pure, free from ‘fillers’ and harmful contaminants. Other essential oils on the market might be ‘synthetic’ or ‘food’ grade. dōTERRA oils are also stringently tested by a third-party to ensure authenticity and potency.

How I use the oils

There are so many different single oils (40+), blended oils (20+) and lifestyle products (like creams and supplements) available, that I’m still learning about them and all their health effects.

When I feel tired or low on energy, I inhale peppermint oil to perk me up – it’s so strong and cooling. This summer I even made my own deodorant using coconut oil, baking soda, cornflour, melaleuca (tea tree oil), wild orange and lavender. There are so many ways to use them!

If you join me on a mindful nature walk or forest bathing session in the future, you’ll also have a chance to try them out.

I use oils to support people’s emotional and mental health, and help them feel relaxed and grounded during our time together.

Curious to know more?

  • Check out the dōTERRA oils through my online shop page
  • Email me and let’s have a chat.

Photos: Lavender by Elly Johnson and dōTERRA oils by Chelsea Gates (Unsplash)

Walks of Wonder

My natural Walks of Wonder are slow-paced strolls through woods, parks or nature reserves. Designed to reawaken your senses and reconnect you to the beauty of nature, these walks will leave you feeling calm, grounded and reinvigorated.

Book in some ‘me time’ today and enjoy all the health benefits of mindful walking in nature.

These walks last around an hour and a half and are limited to 12 people.

Nature-inspired workshops

I offer nature-inspired creative workshops including my popular ‘Walk and Weave Woodland Wreaths’ session. These workshops are usually held during the school holidays and occasionally on weekends. They are suitable for families and adults.

They make ideal birthday parties for a small group (up to six children) or for a group of friends.

Future workshops dates will be released soon.

Walk and Weave Woodland Wreaths workshop, February 2020