Beating the winter blues

January may traditionally be considered one of the most frigid months on the calendar, but we’ve had it pretty easy so far. Canadians have been basking in balmier-than-usual winter weather, although the season hasn’t even hit its peak. The milder temperatures have allowed us to leave our parkas packed away for a little while longer, but the chilling reality is starting to settle in. The inevitable is on the horizon; the deep freeze will soon be upon us.

Coping with the Canadian winter

If you’re like me, born and bred in Canada, our bodies should automatically acclimatize when the mercury drops, right? Wrong. Whenever winter arrives (and we know it never misses a year), there seems to be an adjustment period for many of us. That’s why we should strive to find creative ways to beat the winter blues.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects countless Canadians; up to 80 per cent of those directly impacted are women, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. SAD is most often described by having feelings of hopelessness and can be coupled with oversleeping. While this type of clinical depression can last until spring, even those who aren’t acutely affected can develop a bit of cabin fever during the dead of winter.

Even if you’ve made a conscious effort to view the frozen glass as ‘half full’ during winter months, negative feelings from others can still get you down. There’s even a dedicated day that’s been dubbed the most depressing of the year. It’s called Blue Monday and this year, it falls on January 18th. We can thank this formula: cold weather plus holiday credit card bills. And for some, the blues stretch far beyond mid-month. Children can be affected too. Since the days are shorter during winter months, some experts blame a dip in vitamin D or serotonin for our sluggish behavior. If you’re a parent, getting the kids outside for some fresh air can take some legwork. That might include helping your little one get dressed, searching for that matching mitten or, if you’re like me, trying to reason with my two-year-old, who would rather wear a sun hat than a toque. The good news is that many children actually enjoy everything the season has to offer, so it’s best to embrace the elements instead of wishing winter away.

Winter weather

There will be snow. There will be biting winds. There will be double-digit negative temperatures. Instead of hiding under your duvet, why not invest in a good winter coat? After putting on your parka, participating in outdoor activities and winter sports like skating and skiing can wake up those sleeping endorphins. Keeping up with your exercise routine might also help you beat the blues. Listening to the crackle of a wood burning fireplace and sipping hot cocoa may be small gestures, but they’re great ways to embrace what Old Man Winter has to offer.

Winter safety

As you prep the family for winter play, it’s important to take safe strides while venturing outdoors. When it comes to dressing for sub-zero temperatures, layer, layer, layer! Make sure children are bundled up from head to toe. Mitten clips will also ensure your little one’s hands aren’t left out in the cold.

Since children are more prone to hypothermia, make sure you keep kids dry and look for warning signs like lethargy and slurred speech. Frostbite is also something to keep an eye on. Fingers, toes, ears and nose are key areas where frostbite can quickly set in. If you notice pale, blistered or gray skin, take swift action.

As I traditionally sigh each year with the feeling of winter’s chill, I’m reminded that we are fortunate to have four seasons in Canada. And no matter how painstakingly long it might feel, winter also brings picturesque views, lasting memories of my children making snowmen and, most importantly, the arrival of my firstborn child. So take a moment and enjoy all of winter’s glory.

If you’re looking for more tips on easing those winter blues, there’s lots of material out there. These articles from Canadian Living and Reader’s Digest caught my eye. And of course stay tuned to this blog for regular tips and information on a variety of other important topics.

Stay warm!