Enjoy your snow days

I know that I’m not the only one who is getting down about the amount of snow we’ve had so far in November. Sources vary on the extend of the dump, but it is safe to say that we’ve had over 50 cm more than we would normally have by now.

Since there are on average 81 days of snow in our city, we may as well find ways to make the winter as pleasant as possible.

I’ve been thinking about what upsets me the most about winter in order to figure out how to beat it, and so far it boils down to a few key categories: it’s cold outside, it gets dark so early, it’s a pain to shovel, you miss out on seasonal activities, driving is hazardous, did I mention that it’s cold inside too, and it’s just depressing.

To beat the “it’s cold outside” sentiment, the first thing to do is prepare oneself with the proper outdoor gear. A good coat, boots, and mitts are key. Waterproof fabrics are the best bet, as is something breathable. When my feet aren’t cold, winter doesn’t seem so terrible.

“It’s dark” can also be fought with a little spending. I have a light therapy lamp that is blindingly bright. Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, the bulb just died and now I have to track down where I can buy a replacement. Regardless, I really recommend these lights especially if you have seasonal affective disorder, because it is like a jolt of caffeine when you sit by it in the morning.

In addition to increasing inside lighting, I’m a big fan of Christmas lights. They make me happy. I think that they should be turned on as soon as Remembrance Day is over, until the snow melts.

Shovelling is “a pain,” but mainly when you have somewhere to be and you haven’t left yourself enough time. Get up earlier, lounge a little less over your coffee, and you may just find yourself enjoying the time outside and  the free exercise routine. If you aren’t whistling while you work, you may want to pay someone to do this for you. (That’s why people have kids in Northern Ontario, right?).

Missing out in Spring, Summer, and Fall activities is a kick in the teeth, but winter does offer some great outdoor sports. Hiawatha Highlands rents snowshoes and cross-country skis, and has some of the best trails in the province. Searchmont has downhill skiing and snowboarding, Stokely has cross-country skiing as well, and there is also fun snow tubing across the river in Michigan.

Skating, snowmobiling, ice climbing, ice fishing , tobogganing, and even making a snowman or snow fort (with the requisite snowball fight) are all excellent winter pass-times as well.

Driving needn’t be so hazardous in the winter. For less than $200 a year, you can get excellent snow tires and rims, to make the road a safer place for everyone.

Now I’ve looped back to “it’s cold” again. I started off writing about how to stay warm outside, and now let’s look at how to stay warm inside. Break out the hot beverages like hot chocolate (especially with a shot of coconut rum). Make a nice batch of spicy chili or curry to warm your cockles. Put soup in your lunch instead of a cold sandwich.

In addition to warming up your belly with food and drink, why not light a fire (only if you have a fireplace), turn up the thermostat or put on a sweater and warm socks. I prefer to curl up on the couch with a blanket, and a loved one, or a book, or a good movie.

Finally, there are those of us that think winter is just depressing, and for many of us it is a lack of serotonin that is hampering our enjoyment of life.  Luckily, exercise, laughter, vitamin D, and massage have all been linked to boosting serotonin levels.  That bodes well for me, since after I shovel, I laugh at how out of shape I am, take a multi-vitamin, and then need a massage for my aching muscles.

If none of that works, book a trip South, so that every time you shovel you can think about being 1 cm closer to that tropical beach destination.

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