I find it super easy to spend time outdoors in the summer. Anytime the weather is nice, I’ll almost automatically get out for at least a couple of hours per day. I’m a lot less motivated to do so when it’s cold or wet. This post is largely here to help me remember how nice it is to get outside, even when the weather isn’t so pleasant.
How nice is it? Really, really nice. And yet, I forget, so I end up having to manipulate myself into getting outside in the winter.
I find it easy to manipulate myself with perceived health benefits, such as the well-documented benefits of spending time in nature. I’d find the self-manipulation thing even easier if we knew a bit more about what the “active ingredients” are with regard to time in nature.
Maybe it’s visual. Does the appearance of leaves and trees have some effect on the brain? (I have my own theory that dappled shade has soothing effects on the brain due to our evolution as forest-edge animals.)
Maybe it’s chemical. Trees release all sorts of chemicals into the air, as do bacteria and fungi that live in the soil. I imagine that these are reduced during the winter when the trees are dormant and the soil is covered with snow, but I don’t know of any relevant data.
Besides health benefits, the main ways I motivate myself is either by finding a way to perceive the activity as enjoyable (as being outside on a nice summer day) or else to find a way to smugly perceive the activity as so unpleasant that lesser beings could not bestir themselves to get out in such wretched weather. (One of my mottos: If the weather can’t be good, it should at least be bad enough to be interesting.)
One practical idea I used today: In winter the sunrise is late enough to not have to get up early to get see it. Take advantage of that. See the dawn. Watch the sun rise. Then go back inside where it’s warm.