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4 Ways Going Outside Can Improve Mental Health During Winter

If winter is synonymous with snow, cold, darkness, and general gloom where you live, keep reading. If you’re from a land near the equator and have never had to shovel several inches of snow and ice before work, please, for the love of your fellow human, refrain from telling us about it or showing us pictures.

Guineafowl is based in Boston, and some days, all we want to do this time of year is Rip Van Winkle the days away until Spring arrives. But instead of drowning our sorrows in sleep, we’ve found a few research-backed ways to survive (and even enjoy) winter.

Try Outdoor Sun Therapy

The sun possesses many powerful abilities. Not the least of which is its ability to help our bodies produce Vitamin D and melatonin. Moderate exposure to sunlight is also linked to stress reduction, stronger immune systems, and lower depression symptoms. While indoor light therapy is effective, it’s no match for old-fashioned light therapy. As little as 15 minutes a day can have an impact. Grab a book and a hot beverage and curl up near your sunniest window.

Plan an Outdoor Adventure

A sure way to boost your mood is to plan an exciting experience. Ask National Geographic, they wouldn’t lie to you. Whether it’s an epic winter adventure to somewhere new, or a spring getaway to your favorite lakeside haven, having something to look forward to helps improve energy and focus. Plus, you have something exciting to dwell on when long winter nights feel heavy. We highly recommend a spring or summer excursion to the White Mountains, but the coast of Maine, the Adirondack Mountains, and New York’s Finger Lakes region are other great options not too far from Boston.

Eat Well and Thoughtfully

Does anyone remember those commercials in the 80s that attempted to show “your brain on drugs?” If you do, we’ve got a new ad idea to help you in this stage of life; it’s called “your brain on food,” and it’s a gentle reminder that you get out what you put in. This is to say, your brain and body perform better when you eat better.

But it’s not just about what you eat, it’s also about when you eat. If you’re taking our advice and getting outside for some sunshine and sweat (see below), then you should refuel after your arctic adventure. While there’s not one right way to fuel your body throughout the day, it’s a good start to enjoy 4-5 smaller meals throughout the day, including a snack or meal after a workout to replenish your muscles and brain. Lastly, hydration is just as important in the winter as in the summer. One simple way to ensure you’re staying hydrated is to divide your body weight in half and aim to drink that many ounces daily. More if you’re spending a lot of time outside or exercising.

Work up a Sweat Outdoors

A growing body of research supports the positive connection between exercise and mental health. In the short term – within a few minutes of finishing a workout – your brain releases endorphins, a natural feel-good chemical. In the long term, research shows that exercise can also help alleviate long-term depression and anxiety. Thirty minutes of exercise 3 to 5 days a week is recommended, but studies find benefits from as little as 10 to 15 minutes of movement.

Winter is unavoidable. But hibernating inside isn’t the only option to avoid feeling beaten by the cold weather. You can improve your physical and mental health this winter with small changes to your daily habits. And along the way, you just may find out why 11% of Americans love winter the most.


Guineafowl Adventure Company provides full-service, turnkey guided day hikes in the White Mountains and beyond for people of all abilities and experience levels. We take care of all the planning and preparation for hiking and provide round-trip transportation from the Greater Boston area, day packs with hydration and snacks, safety and convenience items, and friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced guides to lead the way!

Guineafowl's mission is to remove the barriers and obstacles that keep people from exploring nature, so they can feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed while experiencing the physical and mental health benefits of hiking and connecting with nature. Visit our website to schedule your guided hike or contact us to book a private excursion.

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