Every year, when the first snowfall arrives and everyone starts video taping their dogs playing in the snow and having the time of their lives, I always feel like a cloud of stress and sadness is looming. The short days and painfully cold winds and lack of sunshine drains out my energy and makes it seem like there’s very little to be cheery about. This year I’ve decided to put my foot down against the winter blues. The saying goes something like “if you can’t change something, change the way you think about it” and so I’ve been trying to be more mindful of the way I view winter and try to change my own perspective on what I usually see as a gloomy and dreadful time of year. If you’re like me, this can be a difficult season for stress and pessimism. I’ve tried to come up with a few ways for you and I to combat our cold attitude against winter and get one step ahead of the winter blues – and here they are:
Skate the canal
Living in Ottawa, we have the world’s largest skating rink right in our back yard! Grab your skates (or rent a pair on the canal), a friend (or a bae) and get on the ice! Try to skate as much as you can of the canal and treat yourself to a Beavertail and hot cocoa afterwards! Make sure to dress warmly and even sneak in a heating pouch into your mittens and skates if you need to. It can seem quite unappetizing to force yourself outside in the freezing temperatures, but once you get your heart pumping your body will adjust and you’ll begin to enjoy this seasonal cardio workout! The canal has honestly helped me rethink my hatred of the freezing temperatures as skating down the long open lanes can be really soothing and satisfying.
Cook your own comfort food
Just like summer seems to have its own menu with watermelons, iced coffee and salads, winter has some of its own seasonal treats as well. Soups, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pastries and pies are just a handful of the yummy winter comfort foods made to warm up your heart during the cold season. Put your chef hat and apron on and spend some time in the heat of the kitchen with some culinary challenges. Get yourself a few recipes off Pinterest to try and see what you can learn to make. Take it to the next level and invite a couple friends over for a dinner party if you’re up for it.
Have a girls’ night-in
You and your girlfriends can spend all summer long having wild nights outside getting bitten by mosquitos. For now, take the opportunity to relive your childhood and early teen years by having some solid indoor, temperature controlled, mosquito-less sleepovers (with maybe a glass or two of wine now for a change). PJs, blankets, movies, pizza, drinks, girl talk and maybe a game of Cards Against Humanity or What Do You Meme will surely help you destress while enjoying the coziness of the indoors against the cruel background of the Sub-Arctic Ottawa nights.
Have fun layering fashion
While we all seem to complain about not being able to wear our fun summer clothes in the winter, we don’t usually realize that we can’t wear a lot of our winter clothes in the summer either. Take the time during these cold months to explore your winter style and get creative with the outfits you put together. Layering adds a lot of fun to clothes and there are so many different combinations to try – but you do need a little bit of that cold weather to help.
Curl up with a book
If you’re anything like me, then your summer months can be too busy with work and outdoor fun for any time alone inside. Use winter as your perfect excuse to stay in with some rockin’ pajamas and one of those books you swore you’d read but never got around to. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to start reading more books, and winter seems to be the best time to get cozy, hide under a bunch of blankets, make a cup of tea and escape into a great read.
Go to the gym
When outdoor activity just isn’t an option, I always head to the gym to warm up and release my stress and tension while getting to forget what it’s like outside. I’ve recently begun going to hot yoga classes and have been enjoying the reminder of what an overheated room and sweating feels like. A bonus is the feeling when you leave the gym after a hard and hot workout and strangely begin to appreciate the cool and refreshing -30°C breeze outside.
With all these ideas and only a month or two left of this insane weather, the winter struggles will breeze by and we’ll be out in the sun enjoying the heat in no-time! Let’s make the most of what’s left of the winter!
*Remember, these are just ideas for ways to relieve stress and make the most out of the cold winter season. If you think you may be suffering from more serious issues of anxiety or depression, please seek professional help for more suitable and appropriate solutions and treatments tailored for your specific situation.