My environment affects me more than I would care to admit. As someone with Seasonal Affective Disorder (seasonal depression), the past several months have been quite difficult. If you are unfamiliar with Seasonal Affective Disorder, here is a quick definition from Web MD…

 

Seasonal depression is a mood disorder that happens every year at the same time. A rare form of seasonal depression, known as “summer depression,” begins in late spring or early summer and ends in fall. In general, though, seasonal affective disorder starts in fall or winter and ends in spring or early summer.

SAD may affect 11 million people in the U.S. each year, and 25 million more may have a milder form called the winter blues.

 

At least there is some fun irony in the acronym being “SAD” am I right? 😅 I use comedy as a coping mechanism, can you tell?

 

My SAD hits me every year right as the temperature begins to drop and I can no longer be outside comfortably for very long. I get a lot of the usual symptoms- remarkably low energy, low mood, trouble concentrating, fatigue, irritability, weight fluctuation, etc.

 

But this winter wasn’t my first rodeo. My brain chemistry has been this way for as long as I can remember. I have been lucky enough to grow up in a generation that understands mental health better than any other in human history. The support I get from my family, friends and doctors help me get through my “winter fog.”

 

But there’s one thing my family, friends and even doctors can’t fix when my SAD is at its full force- my connection to God.

During the winter months I not only struggle mentally and emotionally, but I struggle spiritually as well. I think it comes down to the fact that the outdoors is my sanctuary. The feeling of a warm breeze on my face, the smell of grass and flowers, the abundance of wildlife, the awe of natural beauty- it all makes me feel closer to God than just about anything. So ever since the temperatures here in Columbus, Ohio finally popped up into the 50s, I have been outside as much as possible (even while writing this blog!). Before we know it, Old Man Winter will be back and, along with it, my Seasonal Affective Disorder. So before that happens, I’m going to take advantage of the spring and summer seasons and cherish every second I spend outdoors in God’s creation.

 

Here are 10 natural Ohio destinations where I think you can feel God’s presence…

 

1. Glacial Grooves State Memorial – Kelleys Island

 

2. Ohio Caverns – West Liberty

 

3. Mill Creek Falls – Cleveland

 

4. Hayden Falls – Dublin

 

5. Olentangy Indian Caverns – Delaware

 

6. Shrum Mound – Columbus

 

7. Overbrook Ravine Park – Clintonville

 

7. Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve – Yellow Springs

 

8. Serpent Mound – Peebles

 

9. Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve – Jackson

 

10. Old Man’s Cave – Logan

 

What did we miss? Where do you feel God’s presence?

 

 

-Written by Kyle Fox, BSPC Marketing and Communications Manager

 

 

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