Just remember in the winter,
Far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love,
In the spring becomes the rose.”
— Bette Midler, “The Rose” lyrics
Winter is not everyone’s favourite season. With the shortened daylight hours, colder temperatures, and lots of snow, it’s hard to embrace the season that many of us love to hate. It’s probably the number one reason why Canadians love to talk about the weather, something that newcomers discover very quickly. In fact, we are probably a bit obsessed about it! On top of that, add COVID-19 and our recent lockdown measures. It’s enough to make anyone want to pull the covers over their head and stay in bed until spring.
On the other hand, there is a lot to be learned from those who love the winter, with its crisp air, outdoor activities, the beauty of the snow, and holiday lights all lending themselves to a different winter energy. For many, this season is a time when people face loneliness, anxiety and isolation. Some may experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder in which people who have normal moods throughout most of the year feel depressed at particular times of the year, most commonly in winter. Symptoms include sleeping too much, overeating and having little or no energy. If you are experiencing these symptoms, call your doctor. More resources can be found here.
Whether or not one might experience a mild case of the winter blues or SAD, there are things that we can do to lift our spirits. Staying connected with people is incredibly important in the winter, especially this year. Though it might seem obvious, having someone to talk to, even for a brief exchange on the elevator or in a grocery store helps. So many of us are connected digitally through FaceTime, social media, texting and emailing. Increase your real time conversations with friends and family on speaker phone especially when you are doing other things around your home. Calling someone daily to have a chat no matter how brief can make a difference in how we feel about our day. If possible, also consider reaching out to someone for whom your call can also make a difference.
Video chat has the added benefit of letting us see and talk to each other from the comfort of our homes. Have a look at The Corner website for programs and activities that you can join by Zoom. If you are unsure how to access video chat, The Corner staff can help. Physical exercise releases serotonin which helps to boost our mood. Bundle up and take a walk in your neighbourhood, or explore somewhere new. Parks across The City are still open, and you can learn more about the Welcome T.O. Winter Parks Plan here.
This past summer Ontario parks had double the number of visitors enjoying the beauty of nature. Let’s keep exploring those parks all year long. Warm clothing may be accessed by low income families by referral here. If walking isn’t possible, indoor activities are still possible online. There are numerous free yoga and exercise sites to help you stay active without leaving home. At home there is no pressure to keep up. It’s all about doing what you can and keeping the juices flowing. The pandemic has forced us to do a lot of things differently and that includes winter. We’ll eventually put the pandemic behind us, but we just might just find some new favorite activities or traditions that we can keep year after year.
Progress Place offers a Warm Line, a peer support phone/chat line available 7 days a week including holidays. They are open 8pm to midnight – 416 960-9276, text 647 557-5882. www.warmline.ca. The Corner can also help you navigate resources.