I feel like a bad Canadian admitting it but I hate winter and have spent most of my winters as an adult looking forward to warmer weather escapes. This year, however, I can’t go anywhere to escape the cold so I have to come to terms with it.
I’ve played with the idea of embracing winter in the past (typically when planning a trip to someplace cold like Montebello or Montreal for the holidays) but have never been able to commit to it for the season. Usually my goal is “survive winter” but I’m determined that this will be the year that I learn to enjoy winter rather than dread the entire season.
I have done some research and given it a lot of thought to come up with a list of things that I can do this year to enjoy winter instead of counting down the days until spring. Hopefully these 8 tips will help if you’re also trying to learn to enjoy winter instead of dread it!
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1. Get Outside as Much as Possible
I have to admit that once autumn has departed, my fallback position has always been to avoid going outside except to walk from the front door to the car. I’m vowing to change my habits this year though because I know that the key to winter wellness is getting outside – even when it’s cold!
The fresh crisp air, sunshine and exercise are beneficial for our physical and mental health even if we only get outside for a few minutes each day. Getting outside provides the daily dose of Vitamin D that we need for our immune systems and lessens the severity of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). There’s also growing scientific evidence that getting outside provides many additional health benefits so I’m determined to sustain my daily walk habit this winter.
2. Dress for the Weather – Clothing Matters!
Of course, dressing for the weather and your planned activity is key to enjoying time spent outdoors in winter. It might not take much planning for just a walk around the block, however, if you’re planning an outdoor activity then bear in mind the Scandinavian saying that “there’s no bad weather, just bad clothes“.
Layering for cold weather is key to staying comfortable when you’re outside beginning with a wool or synthetic base layer that’s breathable and warm. Don’t use cotton as it will tend to get wet with perspiration and then you’ll be cold. Warm wool socks and boots with good traction are also key to enjoying time outdoors in the winter.
My go-to person for any outdoor activity questions is always Leigh McAdam, outdoor travel and adventure expert from Hike, Bike, Travel. For detailed head-to-toe advice on how to dress for outdoor winter activities read her article on What to Wear in Canada in Winter on a -20C Day and you’ll be well-prepared to dress for winter weather.
3. Savour Seasonal Comfort Foods
This is the time of year to indulge in your favourite comfort foods like steaming hot bowls of soup or chili particularly after coming in from a brisk walk. Enjoying these foods will help you feel better about darker days and colder weather.
4. Find a Friend Who Loves Winter
A little inspiration and encouragement can go a long way. Spend time with a friend or family member who loves winter and some of their positivity is bound to rub off on you.
If you don’t know anyone in real life who loves winter or can’t currently get together due to local lockdown restrictions then find someone to follow online. Four of my favourite Canadians who embrace winter on Instagram are Leigh of Hike, Bike, Travel, Claudia from The Travelling Mom, Jody from Travels with Baggage and Sarah from Solo Mom Takes Flight. One look at the gorgeous photos of snowy Western Canada that these ladies post and you will be longing for the next snowfall!
5. Tackle Your Winter Reading List
Shorter days mean more time spent indoors and that translates to more time available for reading! This is the perfect time of the year to curl up in a cozy chair with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book (if it’s in front of a fireplace then even better) and get to work on your winter reading list.
6. Try a New Winter Activity
Finding a new outdoor winter activity or outdoor winter sport to enjoy can be just what it takes to make you look forward to winter. Fun outdoor winter activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice skating are all fairly simple to try for the first time or you could do some winter hiking in a local park or conservation area that you have not yet seen in winter.
I’m hoping to try snowshoeing this winter as rentals are available at some of our local conservation areas. I live in the Toronto area though and, unfortunately, winter is on and off here and at the moment we don’t have any snow.
If you’re looking for more ideas of fun winter activities then check out this post written by my friend Claudia of The Travelling Mom on Twelve Things to Do in Quebec in Winter which also includes packing advice for winter trips.
7. Play in the Snow
Ask any kid and they’ll tell you how much fun it is to play in the snow but somewhere along the road to adulthood most of us lose that enthusiasm. This winter I’ll be trying to embrace my inner child and bundle up to head outside to play if there’s a fresh snowfall.
Building a snowman, toboganning on the closest hill, making snow angels in the backyard or playing with a dog in the snow – it might be more fun than we remember!
8. Change Your Mindset
Perhaps the key to winter happiness and the most important tip for learning to embrace winter is a change of mindset. It’s time to banish those negative thoughts about winter. No more complaining about the cold or how difficult it is to get around in the snow. Instead we’ll engage in a little positive thinking and hopefully when spring arrives we’ll realize that we have actually enjoyed the past three months and are looking forward to next winter!
Do you embrace winter each year or dread its arrival? Let me know in the comments below if you have any advice to help me learn to look forward to winter!
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