Culture & Entertainment

5 ways to make it through a long winter

By: Simone Castello
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

5 ways to make it through a long winter

By: Simone Castello
I still remember the first time I felt really cold this winter. Actually, it wasn't quite winter yet -- it was Halloween 2013. I remember being outside, freaking out because my face was going numb from the biting cold wind that swept in circles around the neighbourhood. I felt a sudden sadness take over me because I realized that this was the start of a long, cold winter -- generally, one of the toughest seasons for me. So here we are -- four months in, at -7 degrees Celsius, with a windchill of 26 kilometres per hour. I'm desperate for sunshine and a day without my snow boots. They say this is supposed to be the warmest day of the week (in Toronto, anyway). I will freely admit that this winter has been tough for me. I'm usually pretty good with my mood during the dark and dreary months, but a string of unforeseen circumstances, combined with the lack of sunlight and opportunities to go outside have left me longing for warmth. I'm guessing it could be worse, however, because that dark night in October made me realize I needed to prepare myself for the long winter ahead. Which I did, and I'm so grateful for it. Here's what I've been doing over the past few months to keep busy and stay in high spirits during the deep freeze. rayofsunshine 1. Zumba (or find an endorphin delivery of your own choosing.) Once a week, I head down to the local community centre and take part in an hour-long Zumba fitness class. Our instructor is awesome, fun, energetic and lively. The music transports me to a sunlit, happy place, where I'm dancing on a beach with a warm breeze blowing through my hair -- and I forget I'm actually exercising! There are some days when I'm so spent after work, I don't feel like going at all. But a wise friend once said to me that those days (the ones when we want to curl up in bed and wait till morning), are the ones when we need outlets like these the most. So I go. And I dance. And for one hour a week, I feed my tropical heart. (Note: When in need of a desperate tropical fix, Zumba lessons can also be found online on YouTube.) 2. Write in a gratitude journal (or something that will offer you perspective, every day.) I started keeping a gratitude journal at the beginning of this year. My goal is to highlight at least one thing every day that makes me grateful. They can be big, elaborate things that are affecting my life on a larger scale, or small, bite-sized pieces of happiness that make me grateful for my life. I can't begin to express how much this simple notebook has helped me. On tough days, I'm able to turn through the pages and read my thoughts, with gratitude. It helps put things into perspective. 3. Looking forward (to something. Anything.) I love to travel. Though there are many reasons I love to pack my bags and head off to foreign lands, one of the things I love most about travelling is the fresh outlook that comes with it. There's so much to be said about a change in scenery. So throughout the course of this winter, I set dates that I would anticipate with excitement. There was a quick trip to New York, for work. A day visit to a spa with a dear friend. A handful of days on the other side of the country -- also for work. A day added to a weekend, so that I could sleep in and watch trashy daytime television. See? Little things (or big things), and I would mark these dates in my calendar, so I knew I was inching towards them. I think I will keep doing this, moving forward. Positive anticipation certainly does well by the spirit! 4. Netflix (because sometimes, you just need to decompress and feed your brain some candy) Oh,  what did I do before Netflix? I'm not quite sure. For a small fee each month, I've been granted access to a wide variety of television shows, movies and documentaries -- and I can watch all of these back to back or spread out over many days, all from the warm comfort of my bed. This was especially handy during the winter ice storm that took over Ontario during Christmastime. Netflix is a treat for me. When I know I've done all my work and have earned some quality 'me' time, I turn to Netflix. My current obsession? A fantastic series titled Call The Midwife. You should watch it, and we can discuss. 5. Get outside. Easier said than done -- I know! But, it's important to remember that even during the long winters, we catch a lucky break, sometimes, and are graced with a warmer day, when it's quite comfortable to go outside. I look forward to these days, and always try to make the best of them. Whether it's a brisk walk around the neighbourhood, or a run through the park, I use every excuse to get outside and enjoy the season. If you've got kids, take them to a local slope or hillside, and go tobogganing. Heck, you should do this even if you don't have kids -- it's so much fun! If the is a lot of snow, perhaps consider building a snowman. One of the biggest lessons I learned this winter is to look at the season with childlike innocence. Kids love winter, and always make the most of it. Why can't we do the same as adults? Now it's your turn. What have you done this winter that's fun and enjoyable? P.s.: Maybe we should all start singing this favourite tune. You know. Just because. [HTML1] Image courtesy of Simone Castello
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5 ways to make it through a long winter

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