While some of the following may be common sense and review for many of you, I wish I knew a few of the tips before experiencing my first winter in Shimane.
1. When travelling be sure to unplug appliances, and to turn off gas and electricity in your house. (Don’t forget the kotatsu!) Also be sure to leave a copy of your passport with your supervisor and bring a copy of your passport with you if you are travelling to another foreign country over winter break. It might also be a good idea to share your general travel plans with your contracting organization. In the event of an emergency, it would be ideal that your contacting organization be able to contact you immediately and directly.
2. When driving in the snow be sure to use snow tires or chains. And give yourself more distance between cars in case you have to stop suddenly. You may need to give yourself extra time in the mornings to get to work slowly and safely.
3. If you are going to de-ice your windshields with water, be sure the water is warm and not too hot otherwise you may shatter your windshield because of the sudden change in temperature.
4. Whether you are at home or outside, try to cover your head with a cap and a hoody and your feet with thick socks and slippers. The majority of all body heat comes out from the head and feet. Remember that it is sometimes just as cold inside as it is outside.
5. Since the air will be dry be sure to stay hydrated and set out bowls of water to humidify the air. You can also consider investing in a humidifier if need be. Cooking at home is a good way to heat and humidify the air. Nabe parties are a good example.
6. Keep a small shovel and a below 0 Celsius degree sleeping bag in your car. If you are stuck in your car during a winter storm you may be able to dig yourself out. And if you do have to shovel for any reason, be sure not to over exert yourself. It is possible to strain a muscle or to put extreme pressure on your cardiovascular system.
7. Remain active. It’s hard to be motivated to exercise when you can literally see your breath inside your home. All I can say it to try to be consistent, have a workout buddy, and start off light. If you are looking for something simple that you can do at home, I recommend the 10/10/10 workout – 10 push-ups, 10-sit-ups, 10 squats. The next set is 9 push-ups, 9 sit-ups, 9 squats. You eventually do this down to 1 rep. of each exercise – without breaks.
Other fun ways to stay active in the winter:
1. Snow ball fights
2. A mountain hike
3. Making sculptures in the snow.
5. Train like Rocky in the snow
6. Enjoy some light skiing in the region
8. Stretching to start and finish the day
Not only is it important to be physically active, but it’s also important to be mentally engaged and stimulated during this darker half of the year. Maybe this is a stretch, but winter can be a great time to:
1. Study the stars.
2. Do some fun cross stitch
3. Learn how to program.
4. Study another foreign language (other than Japanese)
5. Work on some DIY and arts and crafts
6. Take photos
7. Learn something new
8. Work on your online resume
9. Start a garden by a window
10. Draw a picture
11. Work on a puzzle
12. Catch up on Trivia
13. Practice making knots