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Conquering the Winter Blues

Winter can be a beautiful time of year- the snow falling, bundling in scarves, the chance to see loved ones- yet, for many of us, it can plant a seed of dread. It means shorter and darker days. Cold wind blowing and heavy shovelling can dampen the brightest of spirits, and it’s often seen as a test of endurance to make it to spring.

 

This phenomenon can create seasonal affective disorder. It is a type of depression that comes most often in the transition of fall to winter, and it often causes moodiness, low energy, poor sleep, and other depressive symptoms. The farther you get away from the equator, the higher chance you have of developing it, which is due to the lack of sunlight you get in the winter months.

 

What you may not have known, though, is that there are some places that are so far north or south that the sun doesn’t rise in winter. While it may seem crazy, CNN wrote an article about just that- about a town in Norway that spends several weeks in darkness and how they thrive instead of getting sucked into the winter blues. It was so fascinating, and they mentioned that one of the biggest combatants to seasonal affective disorder is to work on changing your mindset. If you view winter as dark, dreary, and energy-sucking, then it makes sense why you don’t feel great during the season.

 

Instead, gradually shift your mindset towards what you like about winter. You don’t need to come to love the snow but come to find the little things you enjoy about it!

 

Here are our favourite things about the winter season! :D

 

Outdoor activities:

  • Drive around to look at Christmas lights. There are often so many houses that are so beautifully decorated, and if you keep an eye out, there might be special displays nearby!
  • Winter photography. As a photographer myself, I love going out in the snow- you can get some incredibly beautiful shots, both in nature and in the city!
  • Skiing and Snowboarding. While these two may be synonymous with the snow, they are winter classics for a good reason!
  • Snowshoeing. This is an unexpected workout, but when the snow is deep, strap on a pair of snowshoes and go have some fun- it’s a completely different way to get around!
  • Ice skating. Whether you find an indoor or outdoor rink, skating is a ton of fun! You can pretend you’re on a date in a Hallmark movie or have a friendly game of hockey with those in your cohort.
  • Go for a walk. There are few things more magical than going for a walk in the gently falling snow- just make sure you’re dressed warm enough!
  • Tobogganing isn’t just for kids! Regardless of how old I was, whenever my friends would make an outing at the local sledding hill, I would always be one of the first ones there! While you can get fancy sleds that can steer or are round like saucers, a simple garbage bag or an inner tube is just as much fun!
  • Find an outdoor festival. Edmonton, Alberta has Luminaria and The Flying Canoe Festival. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has the Enchanted Forest. Quebec City has Carnaval. I bet there is something wonderful going on near you!
  • Have a good ol’ fashioned snowball fight! No holds barred, just find some nice snow and just give ‘er!
  • Light a nice fire. With your cohort, you can have a lovely time sitting around a fire! You can drink hot drinks, roast marshmallows, and tell stories!

 

 

Indoor activities:

  • Watch a feel-good movie. You may have been binge-watching all year, but by choosing certain movies, you’ll boost your mood! Happy films, especially Christmas ones, are designed to make you feel good on purpose, but did you know that re-watching your old favourites is also good for your mental health? Your mind can latch on to what it knows and has control over, and the memories allow you to feel nostalgia, which can give you a sense of optimism for the future!
  • Bake cookies. Did we recently share about reducing sugar? Yep! But we also know the importance of spending quality time with loved ones and the act of creation is great for your mental well-being! So, whether you’re whipping up a batch to snack on while you watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or getting ready to decorate Instagram-worthy treats, we say go for it! (Just watch how much extra sugar you add! ;P)
  • Play a board game or puzzle. Everyone in my household believes they are the best at table games. (Here’s a little secret, though- I’m actually number one, but don’t tell them I said that! 😉) The social time is great for bonding with each other and keeping your mind active.
  • Get colouring! While it once seemed like a childhood pastime, colouring books have started coming back! They have ones designed for adults- be it something specific like Game of Thrones or even just intricate floral patterns. The simple act of colouring is a great calming meditative and creative outlet.
  • Plan a video chat. With restrictions on social gatherings, get creative with what you can do with loved ones over video! While a simple chat is always great, you could always plan specific things to eat or drink together, have a mini cooking class, or even play charades! Chrome has even released Teleparty, which is a free download so that you can watch movies together online!
  • Nap time! Planning to have a nice nap is a great winter activity! Get all cozied up and plan it out. A nap on the couch may be restorative, but taking the time to find a soft blanket, curing up in a bed, and taking time to mentally prepare yourself for a nice sleep makes it a whole new experience.
  • Write in a journal. We keep mentioning journaling because it’s just that good! Write what you’re feeling. A quote you like. The poem you’ve wanted to make. Stick in a picture you found. Doodle. The simple act of creating for yourself is huge!

 

 

The winter sips and snacks:

  • Hot drinks. Apple cider, hot chocolate, tea, mulled wine, and all of Starbucks fun concoctions! This must be my favourite thing about winter, because what is better than curling up with a warm mug of something nice to sip?
  • Pumpkin pie. Walking into a house and smelling the wonderful spices from a pie baking in the oven? It immediately brings you back to great memories and has your mouth watering in anticipation.
  • Candy canes. While I have never even seen a sugar plum, there is nothing more exciting than seeing candy canes everywhere! With all the different flavours, there really is something for everyone.
  • Turkey and stuffing. That quintessential Thanksgiving/ Christmas dinner meal, full of various dishes that make your mouth water.
  • Christmas cookies. The sheer artistry that goes into these cookies is amazing! From snickerdoodles to intricate sugar cookies to cute gingerbread men, these seasonal cookies are always a great treat!

 

 

Great things about the winter season:

  • Soft and warm clothes! From sweaters to scarves to fuzzy socks, the layers are so cozy!
  • Sunrises and sunsets. We’re lucky enough to get daylight every day of the year, even if it’s not very long. The best part of the shortening days is that you don’t have to wake up ungodly early or stay up late to watch the sun change. Since the air is also so crisp during this time of year, the colours are often more vibrant and beautiful as well!
  • Christmas and the holiday season. I am one of those people who can listen to Christmas music year-round, but there is something extra special about the holiday season when the snow falls! All the twinkling lights and overall positivity that seems to enter everyone’s hearts is just magical! (And for those who don’t celebrate Christmas, there are many other heart-warming holidays out there! Hannukah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solistice, Chinese New Year and Diwali are some of the other wonderful celebrations that are filled with light, warmth, love, and good food this time of year!)
  • Chinooks! For those of you who have never heard of a chinook before, it is a native word meaning, “snow eater”. Like the foehn in Europe, the zonda in Argentina, and the berg in South Africa, a chinook is a warm, dry, westerly wind that blows down the Rocky Mountains into Alberta. It’s a lovely, warm respite from the biting cold.
  • Cards. While society is gradually shifting to more virtual ways of communication, we often find cards filled with well-wishes in our mailbox this time of year. A great way to fill an evening is to spend it writing cards for your loved ones and sending out in the world. They will love receiving them, especially if they are older and have been lonely this year.

 

 

These are some of our favourite things about the winter season! Seasonal affective disorder is a very real thing, and we want to do our best to help you overcome it. Apart from training your mind to find the positive things that come in winter, experts also recommend light therapy and making sure you have enough nutrients, especially vitamin D.

 

If you have anything you’d like to add, we’d love to hear them! Reach out to us on social media or send us an email! :D

 

 

 

Written by Kayla Willsey

 

 

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