Gratitude

It is a few months now since I have hung up my skis. Here is an article I wrote for Apex Matters as the lifts stopped turning.

The end of the ski season brings mixed emotions. It is now complete. Ski legs are feeling stronger. Joints are sore. There is a lingering sense of exhilaration. One emotion I’ll remember this season by is gratitude.

Expressing daily gratitude has been scientifically proven to improve health. Taking time to be thankful can reduce aches and pains, improve happiness and can enhance empathy, to name a few benefits. Have you added this practice of appreciating the little things into your daily life? 

I am grateful that my kids get to grow up at a ski hill where they know the mountain so well and that the locals know them too. It sure takes a village. Now into our third season, my family calls this place of steeps our winter home. My boys are turning into strong skiers & powder hounds. Apex is a great place to boost young one’s confidence. It’s a place of positive reinforcement as they strive for their next accomplishment. 

I am thankful that my family and I spend every weekend from 9 to 3 mostly outside. We are countering the statistics that North Americans live in an indoor nation. From slush to temps way below -20 degrees, we dress for the weather and get outside. As our culture becomes more urban, the younger generation is evolving away from nature. Adolescents of today describe higher levels of mental distress. Could this be because there has been a dramatic decrease in green space exposure? 

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I am grateful that Apex kept my family on a rhythm through the winter. With limited fresh tracks this season, my family made a point of getting on first chairs when we could. In order to get on the 9am chair, we had to get into sleep at a reasonable hour. It made us tighten up our sleep hygiene. For every hour to bed prior to midnight is equivalent to 2 hours of sleep after midnight. Limiting electronics in the evening reduced sleep onset insomnia. Crashing on the pillow earlier helped us to rise and shine with vigor. 

Communication is key on the mountain. I am thankful how this plays out. Sticking with partners & the run plan is very important up here. At the patrol cabin or in the Edge, I even see teenagers talking to each other. With limited Wi-Fi, you just go out and ski. Kids today consume some 12 hours of information per day from TV, to web, to texting and video games. Adults are not that far behind. Yet the effects of smartphones and screen time are more devastating for teens, linked with a decline in their mental health. Thankfully iPhones loose their charge in subzero temperatures, forcing us to be present and connected to nature. There is no app for that. 

Like most people, I need a motivator to keep healthy and fit. I am thankful that I have found that motivator via skiing. From preseason squats to keeping up on my cardio I stay motivated so that I can reap the rewards through my weekend warrior status. Fitness also comes down to how I fuel my body. Tipping the scale toward an anti-inflammatory diet keeps my joints in check, reducing the need for NSAID pills after a tough ski day. 

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Apex for me is a place of steeps, friendship and challenge. Apex gives me a chance to immerse myself in the great outdoors with joy and gratitude. See y’all next season.

 

References:

 

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Bell, et al. Public Health. 2016 Aug 11. pii: S0033‐3506(16)30144‐5

Twenge JM, et al. et al. Emotion. 2018

Thorisdottir, IE et al. EJPH 27(5) 856–861