Story submitted by Kirsten
We’ve been told that one of the best things we can do for our mental health during this season of social distancing is to get outside. But if you’re coming from a warm sunny place like San Diego or Pearl Harbor, the idea of going outside in Washington while it’s so cloudy, rainy, and cold can be daunting.
Here are some ways to make it a little easier to do something good for yourself:
If you’re heading outside during the winter months you might get wet, or be cold, but rarely at the same time.
This past week was the first time in the past year my girls and I got caught in a downpour. Normally you can find a soft steady rain at some point in the day and choose to go out then, we planned that day poorly. We were soaked through our jackets, but while walking home we expressed gratitude that we weren’t cold. The temperature was mild. We knew that soon we would be home in our dry house and we would be able to get out of our wet things
There will be mud. There will be puddles. Fortunately both are fun.
Again, soon you will be home in your mud free house. Let yourself get muddy and have fun. Its easy to take off your boots outside and leave the mud where it belongs.
Invest in Proper Gear
A warm waterproof coat and good foot wear are important. Don’t be afraid to wear what works for you.
Make sure your feet are dry. We like wool socks and hiking boots, even if it’s a walk around the neighborhood. I own a pair of rainboots but they stay in my closet through the winter months. They may be waterproof but they aren’t terribly warm. If you aren’t comfortable you won’t go outside.
I’ve never had the pleasure to live in a warm duty station and I’ve lived in New England most of my life, I still wear a down parka for my walks in Washington. Sometimes I feel a little silly because it’s not the subzero temperatures that I grew up with, but it’s what makes me comfortable.
I learned this year that “rainsuits” exist. Brilliant. Sadly they don’t come in my size but if you have a young child with a fondness for puddles this might be for you. Friends I know invest in wool pants and shirts for their littles if they are going to be out for a long while to keep the littles warm.
Leave your umbrella at home. The Pacific North Westerners will know you’re not from around here. But seriously, umbrellas usually just gets in the way. A hat and a hood will do the trick and is less of a hindrance. My 9 year old took an umbrella on our walk today. I was less than pleased at the number of times I got hit with it.
Make It Fun
My kids are not natural hikers. They would not get outside for the sheer joy of it, so we have to find lots of distractions. We follow cracks in the sidewalk, walk like crabs, explore hills, anything to get their imagination going to distract them from the fact I’m trying to get them exercise.
Did you know that artists like to paint and hide rocks in parks in Kitsap? This is a fun activity that we enjoy. Check out the Kitsap Rocks Facebook page to see some examples of the art you can find.
Make Coming Home a Pleasure
Getting outside can be wet, cold, and muddy but before you know it you’ll be back in your warm, dry, mud free house.
Our couches are full of warm blankets and our cupboards are full of kid friendly K Cups. As soon as we get home (after we wash hands because you know, Covid) We spend 15 to 20 minutes having a hot drink and listening to a chapter in our audiobook before getting on with our day. It’s become a very special ritual.
Our go to outside activity in winter is walking (while hiding, and finding rocks!) what sounds good to you to try this winter? Feel free to leave a comment below!