It’s easy to love the winter when the temperature hovers just at freezing, there’s a fresh layer of white, powdery snow on the ground and on the branches, and the sun makes an unusual appearance. However, the average Canadian winter varies drastically and those idealistic winter days just don’t come about every day (or even every week). That’s not to say that the outdoors can’t be enjoyed on the more frigid, blustery days, but it takes a certain level of preparedness and dedication.
I feel like every year I am encountered by more and more sufferers of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). After all, there’s only so much hygge can combat the freezing dark days, especially when you live in a smaller town or city with few options to actually get you out of the house. I currently live in a city where “you’ve got to learn to love the outdoors,” and I always have, but sometimes the cold and the short daylight hours are just too much.
That being said, a mixture of things has helped me make it (at least halfway) through this winter.
1. Get Outdoors When You Can
I know, I know. I just said the cold and dark can really take away the appeal, but you’ve still got to get outside regularly. Maybe that’s every day, maybe it’s just on the weekends. But the longer you avoid outdoor activity, whether just a short walk or a snowshoeing expedition, the harder it is to force yourself to go out at all. Fresh air is an amazing thing, even when it freezes your nose hairs every time you breathe. Do it for your mental health.
2. Be Active Indoors
It’s likely that you aren’t averaging your 10,000 steps if you are sitting inside at home or at work all day and rarely venturing out into the world. While this won’t necessarily cure your cabin fever, it will make you feel healthier and more refreshed to do a workout at home when you can. Heading to a gym in the evenings can also be an extra way to get out of the house during the winter. Have a routine and stick to it through the winter. This will also make it easier to jump back into outdoor activities when more favourable weather conditions return.
3. Clean Up Your Diet
If you aren’t as active in the winter as you are in the summer, you may consider changing up your diet a bit to reflect this. Heavy foods plus lots of inactivity can make you feel lethargic and generally down. This might mean eating slightly less or cutting out certain processed foods in favour of whole foods if you’re finding that you can’t get away with eating the same way during the winter months.
4. Take Vitamin D Supplements
Many people in northern climates are chronically lacking vitamin D. You might not realize the effect this has on your health and your SAD until you actually start taking a supplement. This practice alone can make a difference to your overall energy levels and optimism.
5. Have Projects
Having month-long projects can help you get through the tough winter months by breaking up your time into manageable chunks. Focus on improving a skill or working towards a goal. Maybe that’s your resolution from the new year, or maybe it’s something completely new every month. Dedicate yourself to one thing at a time and then move on to the next. Winter will be over before you know it.
6. Have Some Hygge
You may be sick of sitting by candlelight and eating hearty soups by now, but there’s still a place for coziness even when looking towards the spring. Enjoy winter for what it is and don’t try to rush on to the next season. Remember not to wish your life and time away and to enjoy all the good feelings that winter has to offer.