Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens, Life Coach

Feel better this Winter: 5 Tips to Help you Get Outdoors!

This post is aimed for those of us navigating midlife, the perimenopause or menopause who want to feel better and get outdoors this winter.

I often find January and February hard work. Dreary, grey UK skies (although NOT at the time of writing!), it gets me down. I have this urge for Spring to ‘hurry up’. The irony is not lost on me – London Life Coach, works outdoors..!

Winter can affect our mood negatively; it can disrupt hormones, our sleep pattern and overall well being. We want to hibernate, and although as a human species we don’t, we instinctively feel the need to stay inside, wrapped up and not go out.

Stepping outside into daylight – literally and metaphorically, can work wonders on the brain and soul.

So here are my five top tips to encourage you to get outdoors into nature, to improve your wellbeing this winter, even when you might not want to. Plus, I have a top tip for when it is a challenge!


1.   20 minutes a day in nature to improve your mood

Spending just over 2 hours a week – without your phone – significantly reduces a person’s stress levels (cortisol) and can reduce anxiety, depression and ruminating thoughts according to research by The University of Exeter – more here.
Getting outdoors into the park everyday is a non-negotiable for my wellbeing. And this is of course is partly why I life coach outdoors; nature soothes us. We loosen up with the movement of walking, our thoughts become more free as we start to think more clearly, we de-stress. I LOVE Beckenham Place Park (you possibly already know this!) to lift my mood; open space, woodland, swimming in the lake – see tip 5.


2.  Enhance mental and physical health with morning sunlight

Prof. Andrew Huberman considers morning sunlight exposure ‘in the top five of all actions that support mental health, physical health and performance’. Morning sunlight, even through clouds (perfect for us in the UK!), contributes to better sleep by resetting your circadian clock. In effect, morning sunlight gives us the cue that 14-16 hours later, it’ll be bedtime.
Plus, at this time of year we have the huge benefit of seeing the most amazing sunrises at a reasonable time of day. I sometimes walk my dog Rolo at this time of day in Sydenham Wells Park and it totally lifts me! Read more about the benefits of morning sunlight, here.


3.   Increase the diversity in your gut microbiome

Getting outdoors helps our gut health. “We know that good mental and physical health comes from having a diverse gut microbiome. So not only does the fresh air help our lungs, it gets right down into our guts too”, says Dana Chapman, Nutritional Therapist. She draws parallels between a diverse gut microbiome and a harmonious and thriving village, to highlight the importance of diversity for immune, mental, and physical wellbeing. “The more diversity of people in the village the more harmony there is, and it’s exactly the same in our gut”.
She offers some simple and delicious recipes on her website – I like this Salmon salad. Plus she offer workshops on nutrition, mental health and neurodivergence. And, as nutritional health really interests me, here’s a pic of my 2nd attempt at making Kimchi, a fermented food which is great for the gut microbiome. Yum!

3 jars of homemade Kimchi
2nd attempt – my homemade Kimchi!

4. Exercise outdoors to reduce stress (and more!)

If you’ve seen fitness classes in Crystal Palace Park run by a gregarious woman in pink leg-warmers, it’s likely to be Sarah Aarons. She’s a Personal Trainer and is a big advocate of exercising outdoors whenever possible. She’s also part of the Winter Wellbeing season run by the newly formed Crystal Palace Park Trust, during January. ‘My clients often report an enhanced feeling of wellbeing after an outdoor session. Exercising outdoors has been found to help reduce depression, anxiety and anger due to the increased Vitamin D intake. It also helps reduce blood pressure and stress, meaning that outdoor exercise feels less strenuous than the same exercise performed in an indoor environment.”  Many of her clients are midlife women and men and she offers a brilliant range of classes (which I can personally recommend!).


5. Find your tribe – group life coaching in nature for midlife women

If you’re a midlife women in South London, why not get outdoors and join my FREE life coaching Walk and Talks in Beckenham Place Park?  On the first Friday each month, 10am. Check out Pause Outdoors – my group life coaching collaboration.
We’ve got some EXCITING group life coaching events in London coming up – so an unashamed shout to follow us on our socials (go on!) to keep up to date;

Facebook and Instagram

Group of happy midlife women outdoors in a park
Pause Outdoors’ Walk and Talk for Midlife Women – monthly, free and in Beckenham Place Park

Finally, my TOP TIP for when it feels hard/a challenge

20 minutes a day in nature isn’t a lot, and perhaps you feel stuck for time, or that it’s a challenge on top of all the other stuff going on? If the challenge for you is actually just doing it, this concept might help you; ‘Habit Stacking’. James Clear in Atomic Habits talks about recognising and building onto good habits you already have to make a new habit easier to achieve.

‘One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking.’

Plus, make it small and achievable – what I call, chunking it down. Read this article to understand the power of habit stacking or read Atomic Habits, his super insightful book about making habits sustainable.

Read one of my older posts about Growth Mindset and doing ‘hard’ things. Where I successfully avoided eating meatballs at IKEA…

Or about the perimenopause and menopause and a little about my experience.

So, how can you embrace the outdoors more this winter to improve your midlife wellbeing? 

If you think coaching outdoors might help clarify your thoughts into actual steps forward, book a free, no obligation call with me here.

Let’s talk!



Client agreement - ground rules.

1. Bring my whole self to this process; professionally and personally.

You cannot separate your professional and personal ‘lives’.

2. Be present in the moment and connected.

… to the coaching; what you’re thinking, feeling, experiencing. And…to nature if and where we are outdoors. If we’re on headphones, I’ll invite you to be descriptive of your environment too.

3. Bring the agenda to each session and keep your overall objective alive.

You can do this in several ways:

  • Be goal and action orientated – bring what you want to discuss and achieve to the session; OR
  • Talk and see what lands – exploratory and intentional.

I will bring the process, tools, ideas, resources and best practice to best support you towards your goal/intention/objective. More in your pre-coaching questionnaire. 

4. Give feedback and be responsive.

Coaching is collaborative. Neither of us should guess where we stand. I ask you to give me feedback and respond – you can rely on me to give and do the same.

I aim to get back to you within 24 hours of you emailing me, even if it’s just to say ‘I received your message’ before I respond properly. If it’s over the weekend or holiday, this may take longer.

5. Do the work in the session and in between sessions.

…so that you get the best value, even when it’s challenging. I might suggest a piece of work based on what you brought to the session. Mainly you will decide your course of action.

Whichever way, I’ll invite you to:

  • Reflect more; through walking, writing and whatever else fires you up, to help you achieve your objective.
  • Explore more; be curious and follow those trails of thought, intentionally
    Practice more; habits? Actions? Keep trying/tweaking.
  • Note what’s coming up that’s important or interesting to you in the session. I may share a few bullet points with you after, via Google Docs.

6. Session duration and timescale.

Generally a session is an hour but happy to shorten or increase session lengths, as and when we both can, that day. Where either of us thinks it appropriate, let’s say in the session. Timescale – let’s keep to the timescale agreed in the contract.

Additional information...

  • Coaching is a relationship designed to facilitate the development of personal or professional goals and develop a plan/strategy for achieving those goals.
  • It is comprehensive; it may involve other areas of your life beyond what you may have originally intended. It is your responsibility to choose and decide how to handle this, or even whether to.
  • It can be challenging; digging deep, creating better habits, becoming more self-aware, changing unhelpful beliefs you hold about yourself to something more helpful. There will be ups and downs. You will gain new insights, learnings and perspectives to help you achieve your goal.
  • You – the Client, are solely responsible for creating and implementing your own physical, mental and emotional well-being, decisions, choices, actions and results arising out of or resulting from the coaching relationship and your coaching calls and interactions with me – the Coach. As such, you agree that the Coach is not and will not be liable or responsible for any actions or inaction, or for any direct or indirect result of any services provided by me – the Coach. 
  • You – the Client, understand that in order to enhance the coaching relationship, you agree to communicate honestly, be open to feedback and assistance and to create the time and energy to participate fully in the program. I will do the same.
  • Coaching is not a substitute for counselling, mental health care or substance abuse treatment.  If you are in any kind of therapy, please tell me.  Tell your practitioner (medical or therapeutic) of you working with me.
  • I ask you to agree to commit to the coaching sessions to facilitate the required change.
  • I will treat you as the expert regarding the subject matter, which is…YOU.
  • I will allow time and space for you to explore your thoughts and think for yourself, no interruptions. There may be long pauses or silence sometimes to elicit more.
  • What goes on in your sessions is confidential. I do not discuss it with anyone. There may be occasion when it is my duty to break confidentiality:
    > If I feel you or I are at risk of harm.
    > Criminal / illegal activity.
    > A safeguarding concern or something else so serious that warrants concern.
  • I may talk to my coach or supervisor about issues arising in our sessions without ever naming or giving away you as the client. This is to ensure I am following professional and ethical guidelines and delivering my best. I subscribe to these by the ICF; https://coachfederation.org/code-of-ethics
  • Qualifications and CPD; I am an accredited coach. This means I have trained, practiced and qualified with Animas Centre for Coaching (Nov 2020). I hold a ‘Diploma in Transformational Coaching’. This is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
    > I have my own coach and group supervision
    > My CPD includes –  Outdoor Intelligence for Online Coaching (Oct 2020) -Positive Psychology (Feb 2021

My accreditations


My story

I’d been trying to work out ‘what else’ I could do with my career and life.

After 20 years in HR and with the children getting older, I wanted to change careers, but into ‘what?’ And ‘how’ was that even possible? And…’who would take on a mid-40’s apprentice?’!

I took small steps to boost my confidence and mindset; a regular ‘walk and whinge’ with friends to offload, short courses to up-skill, more running, more netball.
I asked my workplace ‘what else’ they needed that I could help with – ‘job crafting’. 

I was trying to make changes but it wasn’t really working. I was still frustrated and now, more miserable. I needed a different approach to find a way forward and release the building pressure I felt.

Hiring an accredited coach with whom I knew I could work with, enabled me to take a good look at myself – at times, uncomfortably.

To be listened to without any interruption, or judgement was empowering and I started to recognise what made me, me – my personality, strengths, what energised me and made me happy. What if these things amounted to a job I would…love…?

I followed my curiosity and dabbled with ideas about potential jobs, tasks and environments that would suit me, with a new, growth mindset.

I started to shift perspective. When I finally realised the ‘what’, I felt an energy and sense of knowing that was powerful. And I laughed, because it had been right in front of me!

Coaching undoubtedly helped me get to know myself, to see my potential and what was possible. I wholeheartedly decided through those sessions, on what and how I wanted things to be.

It had taken me two years of feeling stuck and miserable and a number of hours to be liberated.

This is what I now do with my clients. I help them rediscover themselves so that they can play to their strengths and thrive.