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How I Learned To *Actually* Embrace Winter as a Floridian Who Just Moved to Denver

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Before I moved to Denver in July 2023, I didn’t personal a single winter coat. However I can’t be blamed. I might by no means favored chilly climate, and I moved to Colorado from Florida, the place it hardly ever drops beneath 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 liked my new residence. However my Florida associates wouldn’t let me be. “Simply wait till winter,” they’d say. “Then see if you happen to nonetheless find it irresistible.”

Consultants In This Article

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

It turns on the market was some fact behind my associates’ 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 every day routine needed to change: My outside runs grew to become treadmill runs. I ended studying my guide on the balcony and, as a substitute, retreated to my bed room to learn in mattress. My after-work hikes with associates became indoor completely happy hours. Abruptly, one of many major causes I moved throughout the nation—to spend extra time having fun with Colorado’s nice outside—appeared null and void for a complete season.

So after I found the Norwegian idea of friluftsliv, I hoped it’d assist me discover a approach to embrace winter with enthusiasm—or no less than much less hatred. Friluftsliv is the observe of spending time in and connecting with the outside, irrespective of the climate. An necessary caveat of friluftsliv is that your outside actions must be non-motorized and non-competitive, says Linda McGurk, the Swedish-American writer of The Open-Air Life: Uncover the Nordic Artwork of Friluftsliv and Join with Nature Each Day. “[Friluftsliv is] about being within the current second in nature,” McGurk says. “To really feel pleasure in nature could be very central to friluftsliv. You’re outdoors only for the sake of being outdoors.”

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Friluftsliv is so integral to the tradition of Nordic nations, together with Norway, that McGurk can’t level to precisely when she discovered it. The idea was by no means an intentional lesson, however somewhat a way of life. 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 way of life and a philosophy than a set of actions.” —Linda McGurk, friluftsliv knowledgeable

It has been my expertise that the identical is not essentially the case in America, the place indoor ideas like “mattress 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 every 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 way of life 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 change, and the way it went.

The 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 unhealthy climate, solely unhealthy clothes.” I’m fairly positive my cropped hoodie certified as “unhealthy clothes” in my new winter life. So I lastly invested in a couple of items to maintain me heat, even in subzero temperatures.

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

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Oh, and don’t overlook 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 if you happen to’re shivering, you’ve misplaced all feeling in your fingers, and the snow has soaked by means of your jacket.

2. Drink espresso outdoors

When the climate is heat, I principally stay on my balcony. My egg chair is my favourite workplace house, studying nook, and even napping nook. However as quickly because the temperature dipped beneath 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 palms (and carrying my heated blanket as a cape), I discovered that I really didn’t assume twice in regards to 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 observe been nice for my psychological well being, however getting daylight very first thing within the morning has been proven to assist circadian rhythm perform, making us really feel awake and alert throughout the day and naturally wind down at night time.

3. Hand over the treadmill

Caveat: In case you get pleasure from working on a treadmill, go forth. However, honestly, I hate the treadmill—and I thought of how a lot I hate the treadmill usually after I ditched my outside run membership for the fitness center when the Denver climate acquired brisk. However, why make my run much less joyful simply because I assumed I hated the chilly a lot?

“I believe in society at present, our lives are so comfy that we’ve got come to assume that something out of that abnormal consolation is unhealthy for us,” McGurk says. “However it may well really be good to really feel a little bit little bit of discomfort typically.” So, questioning if perhaps my distaste for the treadmill exceeded my distaste for the chilly, I traded in my treadmill exercises for cold night jogs with my outside run membership.

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

Much more rewarding than the contemporary air pulsing by means of my physique was the sensation of accomplishment I felt each time I completed a run. Generally practising 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 objective: to finish my future, 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, considered one of my favourite methods to observe friluftsliv is true after an enormous snow. My sister and I seize our sleds, stroll to the neighborhood park, and spend hours flying down the hill. In reality, final time we did this, we performed so laborious we broke our toboggan. Did I really feel a little bit 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 after I acquired to the underside? Completely.

As soon as I shed my perception that taking part in outdoors was just for children, 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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