7 Ways to Shake the Winter Blues While Travel Nursing

winter blues while travel nursingBy Jennifer Mitchell, Contributor

When winter arrives, bringing with it shorter days and colder weather, many people feel sad and tired. According to Harvard Medical School, these winter blues affect about one-quarter of people who live in the middle and northern portions of the country. If the colder weather is putting a damper on your mood, you don't need to wait for spring to start feeling better. Try these seven tips to shake the winter blues right away.

1. Get some sunshine every day

On cold winter days, going outside may be the last thing you want to do, but spending some time outdoors can actually help you feel better. That's because exposure to light is what triggers production of serotonin, a chemical that boosts your mood. To soak up some sunshine this winter, try going for morning walks. If you'd rather get sunshine indoors, open your drapes and sit close to the windows.

2. Eat a healthy diet

The foods you eat can have an effect on your mood, Cleveland Clinic explains. When you eat carbohydrates, your body releases the feel-good chemical serotonin. When you eat protein, your body releases dopamine and norepinephrine, two chemicals that make you feel more alert. To improve your mood, eat healthy carbohydrates and proteins at every meal. Some healthy carbohydrate sources include beans, whole grain bread and fresh fruits. Healthy protein sources include eggs, low-fat dairy and lean meats. High-fat meats —such as sausage or salami —can make you feel sluggish, so try to avoid them.

3. Get regular exercise

As a nurse, you already know that exercise offers many benefits for your health, but did you know it can also help you fight the winter blues? According to the South Dakota Department of Health, exercise can quickly boost your mood. However, it can be harder to stay motivated on dark, cold winter days. If you find yourself making excuses to skip workouts, consider asking one of your travel nursing coworkers to be your workout buddy. You could also use the winter weather as an opportunity to try fun, new physical activities, such as snowboarding or ice skating. On workdays, getting more exercise can even be as easy as parking further away from the hospital so you get a brisk walk on your way in.

4. Use stress management techniques

Stress management can help you cope with the winter blues, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health says. There are many ways to manage stress, including mind-body techniques. To improve your mood, you may want to try relaxation techniques, such as tai chi or yoga. Mindfulness exercises, such as meditation or deep breathing, can also be helpful.

5. Make time for socializing

When you're a busy travel nurse dealing with the winter blues, socializing may be the last thing on your mind. Even if you don't feel like it, make an effort to spend time with your friends and family members. Socializing, especially if it's face-to-face, can improve your mood. If you're away on a travel nursing assignment, get to know your new coworkers.

6. Head to a sunnier, warmer climate

During the winter months, taking a trip to a sunny, warm destination may be just what the doctor ordered. If possible, take some time off work and head down south. After spending a few days in the sun, you may feel better. As a travel nurse, you also have the opportunity to spend the whole winter in a warm, sunny part of the country. To leave the winter blues behind, find a travel nursing job in Florida or another state with year-round warm weather.

7. See your doctor

If you can't shake the winter blues, see your doctor. For some people, the "winter blues" is actually seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that's triggered by the changing seasons. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with SAD usually notice symptoms such as tiredness, oversleeping and depression during late fall or early winter. Without treatment, the symptoms last until spring or even summer. Doctors may offer a number of treatments, including psychotherapy or medication.
The winter months are a hard time for many people, and if the cold, dark days are making you tired or gloomy, you're not alone. For relief from the winter blues, try some or all of these seven strategies.

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