TotalMed Blog

Winter. It’s cold, dark, and gray, and for most of us, it’s our least favorite season. When you add in the functional (and let’s face it — somewhat impersonal!) nature of assignment housing, it can feel hard to balance the winter blues with warmth, light, and a homey atmosphere.

It may be the darkest season of the year — but that doesn’t mean you can’t brighten up your spirits! So how can you make your travel nursing home feel relaxing this winter? Check out the following ways to make your space inviting and warm.

Bring a soft touch from home

Touch — it’s one of the least discussed of the five senses, yet also one of the most powerful. Your skin is the biggest sensory organ in your body, sensitive to both softness and warmth.

To harness the mood-elevating power of touch, bring your favorite bedding with you on your winter assignment. That could mean flannel sheets, a favorite down comforter, or a warm fleece blanket. If you’re packing light, a cushy pillow with a flannel pillowcase will do wonders when you rest your sleepy head!

Pack your favorite sweater and a pair of comfortable yoga pants or sweatpants. You’ll feel freer moving around and won’t have to keep revisiting the thermostat to make sure the heat’s really on. Oversized towels and plush robes are another great idea for bringing in some luxurious self-care. Wrapped up closely, you’ll feel like you’re giving yourself a great big hug!

Cook warm winter favorites

Like touch, scent and taste are also great sensory triggers for well-being. Interestingly enough, the ways smells enter our brains, passing through the olfactory bulb, may be linked to why they’re such potent reminders of our past.

Cook some of your favorite hearty dishes to fill your assignment housing kitchen with aromas that remind you of home. Then let yourself indulge in hearty portions! Whether it’s spaghetti, chicken pot pie, freshly baked bread or warm chocolate chip cookies, winter’s definitely the season for comfort food.

Relax in the tub

Did you know baths have been scientifically proven to be good for your health? They balance hormones, improve heart health, soothe joints and muscles, and may even reduce sugar levels.

Beyond physical health benefits, baths have a major positive impact on mental and emotional health. They’re a huge part of many cultures — from the social phenomenon of public bathing in hot springs in Iceland, to the ancient Roman bathhouses, to the Japanese, who have turned bathing into an art form through the ofuro soaking tub tradition.

Indulge in this simple pleasure to relax after your shift. Turn your housing bathroom into a little spa oasis by lowering the lights, lighting candles, and playing soothing music. Add Epsom salts or essential oils to the tub — or use a bath bomb to make things fun. You might make your experience a little more indulgent by using a face mask or body scrub.

Finish off your bath by using your favorite scented lotion — your dry winter skin with thank you.

Make a ritual with treats

End your evening (or shift!) with a sweet reward, be it tea, a small special cookie, or a mug of mulled wine (check out these 13 grown-up hot beverages!). A little treat in moderation can lift your mood. You may also find yourself pleasantly anticipating your special ritual as the day draws to a close.

Catch up on classics

Nothing says tuning out the cold like cuddling up with a book. While best-selling, page-turning beach reads are great in summer months, why not get yourself lost in a classic this winter? Or take a look at these 20 cold-weather-themed books. Prop up your feet, get under your blanket, and dig in for hours of distraction.

Not feeling like reading? Have a movie marathon or re-binge-watch a favorite TV show instead!

Celebrate light and nature

The days of winter are the shortest of the year. It’s no wonder the winter holidays focus on celebrating light! Counteract darkness by using candles in the evening. Their warm glow will bring a peaceful presence into any room. If your assignment housing has a fireplace or gas insert, you’ll also enjoy using it this time of year.

During the daytime, open up your blinds fully — sunlight can seem particularly bright and refreshing on a crisp day. If you suffer from seasonal affectedness disorder, you might even go a step further by investing in a mood-elevating light therapy box. Another idea for gray days? Drape a yellow- or orange-colored curtain over a window to warm the light and mimic sunshine.

Bring plant cuttings and winter flowers into your home, too. It can feel stark outside, but you might be surprised what you can find when you look closely, like tiny berries on cedar branches, pink camellias, or sprigs of holly with eye-catching red berries.

Have a party

What says cozy more than a group of friends gathering? Invite your nurse colleagues or other friends for a small get-together. (Intimate groups can feel particularly joyful this time of year!) Enjoy a potluck or serve a simple dinner. You might also play games — charades, Taboo, and Bananagrams are great for groups — and while away the winter hours together.

Study the Danish art of Hygge

Looking for more ways to have a cozy winter? You may have heard about the Danish Hygge phenomenon, which is trending in the U.S. Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top three happiest countries. One reason why is Hygge, a simple philosophy on slowing down and enjoying life and nature — including winter!

Hygge can give you advice on how to embrace the cold and darkness, let go of stress, and fill your days with magical, joyful moments. It’s also about practical tips, like how to furnish your home for maximum tranquility or brew a perfect pot of tea. Want to learn more? Check out this list of 19 Hygge Books to Cozy up with on a Winter Night.

Looking for more on how to make the most of winter? Check out our 25 winter travel tips for travel nurses.