By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
While taking an assignment in one of the northernmost states is not everyone’s idea of fun, sometimes the winter rates will be enough to make you think twice about trying to avoid cold and snow.
For my first assignment out of state, my husband and I ended up in the middle of Wisconsin, lured by the promise of a very generous pay package. We were lucky enough to arrive in the middle of August, and the fall up north was definitely beautiful. However, when winter hit in mid-October, it hit hard. Snow was almost constantly on the ground, the sky was continually varying shades of gray, and getting out of the house was hard not only due to weather, but because there was essentially nothing to do outside before ski season started.
This was the first time I had experienced any sort of true seasonal depression. I’m not sure if rotating shifts contributed, but overall I just felt myself fall into a funk by the time November hit. I started taking Vitamin D (no idea if this truly makes a difference, it was just a recommendation from a coworker), but I really struggled with staying active outside of work.
Most people would agree that going outside for a walk or some activity in single-digit temperatures is not the typical idea of “fun”. However, I learned quickly how important it was to move, even when the weather outside was telling me to hibernate on the couch with a fuzzy blanket. Here are a few of my best tips to keep moving even if you are in the middle of the snowy north all winter long:
1. Take advantage of “warm” days.
There are bound to be some days that are ever so slightly warmer than others, even if “warm” isn’t your typical standard. At the very least, the sun will likely shine a little more on some days than others. This is your chance! Make a point to get outside on these days when they come, even if they are unexpected. Rearrange your schedule, take a stroll on your lunch break, or go for a brisk walk after work. Anything to get your blood flowing.
Invest in a few good quality winter items.
Every travel nurse needs a good winter coat. This is one item that you can splurge on and use for many years to come (especially if you don’t use it every single winter). Look into some higher quality brands and buy something that will keep you warm on the days you do go outside. I also recommend a good pair of boots and gloves. Having the basics to protect you from cold wind or frigid temperatures will help motivate you to get outside in colder weather.
2. Try a new activity.
Even if it seems that all of your favorite outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, or strolling around shopping are out of the question during colder months, you might be able to find a new activity that you can master. Obviously snowy climates are a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding. There are also other activities like snowshoeing, ice skating, and snowmobiling. This is one of the best parts of travel nursing–getting to try something new you wouldn’t experience back home!
3. Don’t underestimate mall walking.
I’m dead serious on this one. A friend of mine recently shared that when they had their baby over the winter months and she was feeling cooped up she would simply head to the mall with her stroller and walk around people watching. I loved this idea! Sometimes you don’t necessarily need to do anything specific–you just need to get moving and out of the house. Look for a local indoor mall, a Super Target, or even a Costco or other large warehouse store. Grab a cup of coffee, and just take some time to browse.
4. Look into online fitness classes.
There are obviously a lot of different options for this, but one of the positives I have seen brought on from the Covid 19 pandemic is that so many studios are now live streaming their workout classes. This is even better than downloading a workout in my opinion, because you actually get the feeling that you are in a group setting which can be nice. If you are a beginner, I also really enjoy the website Yoga Download, which has tons of light workout or stretching options for all levels.
So there it is. Your friendly reminder that no matter how cold it gets, no matter how gray and ugly it is outside, just do something. This has been a tough year for many people, and movement is imperative for keeping up our mental health. Even if it’s something light and easy, I highly, highly recommend finding a simple way to keep active this winter. Your body and your mind will thank you.
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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