How I Learned To Embrace Winter in 4 Easy Steps



Before I moved to Denver in July 2023, I didn’t personal a single winter coat. However I can’t be blamed. I would by no means favored chilly climate, and I moved to Colorado from Florida, the place it not often drops under 85°F. However, with an open thoughts, I launched into my westward migration in the summertime, in order to ease myself into this new, four-season lifestyle.

I spent my summer time mountain climbing in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park, tubing down creeks, swimming in alpine lakes, and by no means shutting up about how a lot I cherished my new house. However my Florida mates wouldn’t let me be. “Simply wait till winter,” they’d say. “Then see should you nonetheless adore it.”

Specialists In This Article

  • Linda McGurk, Swedish-American writer and friluftliv professional.

It turns on the market was some reality behind my mates’ warnings. I used to be not ready for winter in Colorado—I imply, I did not also have a coat. After the primary snow of the season fell on Halloween weekend, primary options of my each day routine needed to change: My outdoor runs became treadmill runs. I finished studying my e-book on the balcony and, as an alternative, retreated to my bed room to learn in mattress. My after-work hikes with mates changed into indoor comfortable hours. Immediately, one of many major causes I moved throughout the nation—to spend extra time having fun with Colorado’s nice outdoor—appeared null and void for a complete season.

So once I found the Norwegian idea of friluftsliv, I hoped it’d assist me discover a method to embrace winter with enthusiasm—or a minimum of much less hatred. Friluftsliv is the follow of spending time in and connecting with the outside, irrespective of the climate. An vital caveat of friluftsliv is that your out of doors actions must be non-motorized and non-competitive, says Linda McGurk, the Swedish-American writer of The Open-Air Life: Discover the Nordic Art of Friluftsliv and Connect with Nature Every Day. “[Friluftsliv is] about being within the current second in nature,” McGurk says. “To really feel pleasure in nature may be very central to friluftsliv. You’re outdoors only for the sake of being outdoors.”

Friluftsliv is so integral to the tradition of Nordic international locations, together with Norway, that McGurk can’t level to precisely when she realized it. The idea was by no means an intentional lesson, however slightly a life-style. From climbing timber and catching bugs to picnicking and mountain climbing, McGurk says her on a regular basis life in Sweden usually unfolds outdoors as a result of, effectively, everybody else’s does.

“[Friluftsliv is] extra a life-style and a philosophy than a set of actions.” —Linda McGurk, friluftsliv professional

It has been my expertise that the identical is not essentially the case in America, the place indoor ideas like “bed rotting” are apt to seize nationwide consideration. So to embrace friluftsliv as somebody who would not love winter, I labored with McGurk on auditing a few of my each day habits. To ease right into a friluftsliv lifestyle, she encourages beginning small: “Actually attempt to make it easy,” she says. “It’s extra a life-style and a philosophy than a set of actions.”

With McGurk’s phrases of knowledge in thoughts, I sought to rework my mindset from that of a Floridian to a friluftsliv lover. Right here’s what I did to make the swap, and the way it went.

The best way to embrace winter with friluftsliv in 4 steps

1. Spend money on clothes layers

There’s a saying within the Nordic area that “there’s no such factor as dangerous climate, solely dangerous clothes.” I’m fairly positive my cropped hoodie certified as “dangerous clothes” in my new winter life. So I lastly invested in just a few items to maintain me heat, even in subzero temperatures.

McGurk says dressing in layers is good for winter climate as a result of you possibly can simply add or take away clothes to your consolation degree. Your base layer is all about warmth and wicking. I opted for merino wool as a result of it’s naturally odor resistant, wicks away sweat, and is unbelievably comfortable. Your mid-layer ought to insulate (assume: a fleece pullover) and your outer layer is what protects you from the weather.

Oh, and don’t neglect your extremities. Thick socks, mittens, and a hat are a should. In spite of everything, you gained’t be capable of get pleasure from time outdoors should you’re shivering, you’ve misplaced all feeling in your fingers, and the snow has soaked via your jacket.

2. Drink espresso outdoors

When the climate is heat, I principally reside on my balcony. My egg chair is my favourite workplace house, studying nook, and even napping nook. However as quickly because the temperature dipped under 50°F, I discovered myself spending much less and fewer time there.

However, within the spirit McGurk’s decree for simplicity, I made a decision to start out sipping my morning cup of espresso on the balcony, regardless of the coolness. With a heat beverage in my fingers (and sporting my heated blanket as a cape), I discovered that I really didn’t assume twice concerning the chilly. I used to be too busy taking within the dawn over town skyline, the contemporary blanket of snow that coated the garden, and some moments of quiet earlier than my day started.

Not solely has this follow been nice for my psychological well being, however getting daylight very first thing within the morning has been proven to assist circadian rhythm operate, making us really feel awake and alert in the course of the day and naturally wind down at night time.

3. Hand over the treadmill

Caveat: Should you get pleasure from operating on a treadmill, go forth. However, in truth, I hate the treadmill—and I considered how a lot I hate the treadmill usually after I ditched my out of doors run membership for the health club when the Denver climate bought brisk. However, why make my run much less joyful simply because I believed I hated the chilly a lot?

“I feel in society at the moment, our lives are so snug that we’ve come to assume that something out of that extraordinary consolation is dangerous for us,” McGurk says. “However it will possibly really be good to really feel just a little little bit of discomfort generally.” So, questioning if possibly my distaste for the treadmill exceeded my distaste for the chilly, I traded in my treadmill exercises for cold night jogs with my out of doors run membership.

I gained’t mince phrases: The primary one sucked. I didn’t put on heat sufficient leggings, I sweat via my cotton hoodie (cotton is a giant no-no for cold-weather exercises), and each breath I took felt like I impaling my lungs with an icicle. However I saved displaying up, and week after week, it grew to become simpler.

Much more rewarding than the contemporary air pulsing via my physique was the sensation of accomplishment I felt each time I completed a run. Generally working towards friluftsliv pushes us out of our consolation zone and right into a fuller life. “We have to face these little challenges to really feel alive,” McGurk says.

4. Play outdoors

Are you able to keep in mind the final time you performed outdoors? Earlier than October 2023, I couldn’t. I at all times went outdoors with a function: to finish my long term, to stroll my canine, to hike to the highest of a mountain. However the finish of our childhood doesn’t need to imply the tip of taking part in.

Now, one in all my favourite methods to follow friluftsliv is correct after a giant snow. My sister and I seize our sleds, stroll to the neighborhood park, and spend hours flying down the hill. Actually, final time we did this, we performed so onerous we broke our toboggan. Did I really feel just a little foolish and self-conscious the primary time we we traipsed up the hill with a bunch of 6-year-olds? Sure. Did I deep-belly snicker once I bought to the underside? Completely.

As soon as I shed my perception that taking part in outdoors was just for youngsters, I noticed that throwing snowballs, making snow angels, and constructing a snowman is a enjoyable and ageless exercise. And if somebody makes enjoyable of you, inform them to go friluftsliv themselves.

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