As some of you may know, I moved back to Canada after spending nearly 10 years (off and on) in London, UK. While it's absolutely amazing to be back surrounded by all of my fellow maple syrup loving, overly friendly, beautiful Canucks, I kind of forgot about one major issue:
And I'm not talking about the dusting of snow that Londoners would get here and there (and yes, the entire city would shut down). I'm talking about 40cm of snowfall in an afternoon; temperatures of up (down?) to -45 degrees celsius (yes you read that right. Celsius. Go ahead, read that sentence again) with the windchill. Don't know what a windchill is? Count yourself lucky.
I'm talking about winters that stretch from November to April. The kind that, by March it's a slushy grey mess and the "fun" parts of winter begin to dissipate. Skiing is on its way out, the trails for snowshoeing or hiking with the dog are sloppy and the bright sunshine that once reflected off that powdery white stuff is melting into the grey skies of spring.
Now don't get me wrong. I'll take the above versus winters in London (or any weather in London really, because let's be honest, their seasons are a little less apparent than ours). The dampness doesn't sink into your bones here, the snow is generally quite pretty and fluffy, the sun usually shines bright and it comes with a number of amazing winter sports.
But, I have realized that there are a few ways to survive winter now that I'm back. The fact I have a South African born, British boyfriend means I'm seeing winter through his eyes now too - eyes that are usually seen only through the slit of his scarf in these really cold days! So in no particular order, here's my survival list:
1. Take up winter hobbies. Yes, this is easier said than done when the wind is blowing, you need to dig your car out of the driveway, put on 15 layers and wait for your car to warm up. BUT, you can find local trails for a hike (with the dog is our fave!) and find a pub/cafe/restaurant nearby; slap on some snowshoes (surprisingly not very expensive) and head into the forest; hit the ski slopes for some downhill, or borrow a pair of cross country skis to tour around. Also on my list this year? Rent a fat bike - I've been wanting to do this since they first came out and have yet to do! Also fun? Get chummy with friends that have some (or all of the above) like our neighbour who has three snowmobiles that he leaves the keys in so anytime we want to go for a ride, we're good to go!
2. Make plans to get OUT. Another one that is very easy to let slide. Hibernation mode is a real thing and it can be so tempting when you're looking at another snowstorm rolling in. But as long as you've got a good set of winter tires, and the roads are clear, make plans to get out! I make plans to go to yoga, meet a friend or client for coffee or glass of wine, head for a guitar lesson (ok mine was cancelled this week due to a snowstorm followed by freezing rain but shit happens), my boyfriend and I went to a dance lesson last week then had margaritas - change up the routine! Whatever you have to do to stay motivated when the days are short and the weather isn't kind. Hit the gym on your way home from work, meet a friend for a drink or work from the coffee shop for a bit. You know the saying, 'misery loves company'? Never has this been truer when talking to a fellow Canadian about shovelling your way out of the driveway to get your caffeine fix at Starbees.
3. Get good at hygge (hoo-gah). Ok I know this contradicts the above, but there's a time and a place. After a long day skiing? Enjoy your après ski at home next to the fireplace. Pour a glass of wine (or two, or three - you're not driving anywhere else today!) and embrace the cozy side of winter. Our pup is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and while he loves running around in the snow, anything too chilly and he's out. I can put him in the warmest coats I've bought him, but at a certain point, it's time to head inside. So slip into those yoga pants, thick reading socks, park it on the sofa and get your snuggle on.
4. Plan a trip (or at least daydream!). Statistics show even looking at images of exotic locations or daydreaming about your next vacation can do wonders for your mental health. We have a trip coming up to Bahamas in February and I cannot wait to feel some sun on my (pasty) skin. When the snow is coming down? I can sit smugly knowing I'll soon be on a white sand beach, sipping a cold cocktail, with the snow a million miles away. Equally, when you arrive back from said vacation, you'll need to still look at those photos, because that warm vacation feeling you were rocking only days ago? Ya, that will be long gone.
5. Supplements help. This may not be for everyone but seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real thing and a daily dose of Vitamin D has certainly helped me stave this off! I could have used it as well in London due to its lack of sunny days but better late than never!
6. Embrace the seasons. I feel so lucky to be back in Ottawa. This part of Canada has such distinctive seasons and I've loved embracing each one. Without our cold, snowy winters, we wouldn't have our hot and sunny summers, or our colourful falls and refreshing springs. I also think it's what makes us Canadians so unique - we bond through the tough times and celebrate the good ones. When I see snowstorms covered on the news here, you know what's often shown? The guy that skated down to his local Tims after freezing rain last week. The community that helped each other dig out their cars after a huge snowstorm. The many winter festivals on offer with large turnouts, or the sheer number of people skating on the Rideau Canal daily. You see, winter isn't something to dread, but I think it's something to lean into. Even when this is my current backyard:
How about you? How do you embrace / enjoy / get through the winter months? I'd love to hear from you! Until then...stay warm! ❄️