Healthy Living in the North

Indoors and in trouble

Sitting on the couch, laptop open, being sedentary.

This is where I was commonly found at my old residence.

I moved from Vancouver to Prince George in 2007. That year I experienced my first “Canadian winter”… and it was horrible. Because I didn’t know many people in town, my life consisted of working eight hours, going home to sit on the couch for a night of TV, and sleep. It was repetitive, monotonous, and boring. The basement suite that had seemed like a cozy place to hang my hat in the summer and fall had turned into a prison: its 70s wood panel walls like bars, my roommate a cellmate, its small windows offering a glimpse into a snowy world that I wished would melt away. Am I being a tad melodramatic? Without a doubt, but you get the point: cabin fever had set in. Sadly, I felt this way every winter for the first three years I lived in PG.

Today, I take advantage of winter, embracing it instead of dreading its arrival, and look back at how I used to feel with regret. So, what changed?

Thanks in large part to my girlfriend and her family, I’ve taken up ice fishing and snowmobiling, and, just last weekend, I went for my first snowshoe. Snowmobiling isn’t something everyone can afford; purchasing a snowmobile, buying gas, and maintaining the vehicle adds up. I certainly wouldn’t be able to afford it myself. But what was my reason for not fishing and snowshoeing sooner? Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case for me and it doesn’t have to be for you either.

Research shows that having a good social life has several benefits to your mental well-being, that an active lifestyle helps you live longer, and that getting outside to take in some vitamin D has numerous positive effects.

Winter has settled in and probably won’t be leaving for the better part of a couple months still. As I learned the hard way, that’s a long time to be held by the dull and rather depressing grip of cabin fever. With that in mind, please consider taking five minutes to plan an outdoor activity for this weekend (weather permitting, of course),  get a friend involved – perhaps someone you’ve been meaning to connect with for a while – and enjoy.

Do you or have you ever experienced cabin fever? How’d you overcome it? How do you take advantage of winter?

Be sure to caption about cabin fever in our caption contest to enter to win a $300 GC!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Comments

  1. Amy Klepetar says

    Great post! So very important for mental and physical health to be active in the wintertime. Just to comment on the notion of getting Vitamin D by being outside: the solar radiation in the wintertime in Northern BC is such that you will not make Vitamin D from the sun’s rays, starting mid-fall and lasting through perhaps late March/early April. Folks living in the north should supplement this vitamin, especially during winter months, to receive the many health benefits. A study found that those living in Edmonton (52°N) had no production of Vitamin D3 during a period that extended from October through March. See: Influence of Season and Latitude on the Cutaneous Synthesis of Vitamin D3: Exposure to Winter Sunlight in Boston and Edmonton Will Not Promote Vitamin D3 Synthesis in Human Skin A. R. WEBB, L. KLINE, and M. F. HOLICK The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 1988 67:2, 373-378