This is me in my kind of heaven – on a pair of skis.
It’s one of those perfect blue sky days with fresh powder and no queues. Days like these are hard to beat (but then a bad day skiing is better than any day working!).
Skiing is not just something I love, it’s enormously good for my physical and mental health. It ticks more boxes than just about anything else I do.
The physical side is obvious, skiing is a full-body workout – I’m still aching three days later!
However, it’s the mental side that really pays off for me.
There are three things we know are good for mental health; time in nature, connecting with your body and performing a skill you have mastered. Skiing has all three.
The scenery in the mountains is uplifting, spectacular and literally awe-inspiring. Your daily cares and woes just melt away. What’s more, you are really immersed in nature, visually and viscerally.
The weather can be rather dramatic and you are right in it, which can be a somewhat bracing experience, even a little scary at times.
When I am skiing is when I feel most connected with my body and the least stuck in my head. I am focused on feeling the skis on the snow and my stance and balance. When you get it right, it just feels beautiful, your body and the skis working in harmony and your mind just a detached observer, enjoying the fun.
I also find it enormously rewarding to do something I’m good at (it’s about the only sport I rise above mediocre!) Additionally, I am able to keep working on my skills and improving my abilities. You can teach an old dog new tricks and they enjoy learning them!
But there’s much more.
I get to spend time with friends, enjoying their company and the the shared experience. There’s lots of laughter and the joy of doing something just for the sheer pleasure of it.
I get to continue challenge myself, finding new ways to tackle even the most familiar runs. A new route, different turns, different conditions. The variety is endless and you can always find an edge to work on (see what I did there?).
It also teaches some life lessons. Like everyone, I started out trying to force the skis to follow my will, which is very tiring! Now I let the skis run and respond to them by shifting my weight at the right moment to direct them, which is much less tiring. It turns out that sensing and responding is much more effective (and enjoyable) than command and control by force. If only organisations could ski, eh?
So that’s why skiing is my kind of heaven. There have been years when my ski trip has been the light in the darkness, the little mental and emotional fillip that has kept me going. It’s how I met my wife, it’s something we’ve enjoyed with our kids and our friends (our ‘ski fam’ as we like to call them).
When I am skiing well, it feels like I am floating over the snow, almost as if I am flying. I have a relaxed focus, my mind is calm, I am at one with myself and the world.
What does that for you?