Winter 2021 challenged me to adopt a positive winter mindset. In my part of Ontario, the Premier issued a ‘Stay-at-Home’ order in early January. It was finally lifted last week but vaccines for people my age are not available yet. It will likely be another 4 – 6 weeks before my turn comes up.
To get through March until spring comes and my age group gets its turn in the vaccine queue, I decided to prepare myself for several more weeks of pandemic isolation. I’m tired of staying at home as is everyone I know, but I’m accepting this state of affairs.
February was brutal in that several snowstorms bombarded our region along with temperatures that reached daytime highs of -5 to -9 Celcius and fell to -15 Celcius at night. After one of the storms, our snowplough contractor was unable to clear our driveway for almost a day as his truck was disabled due to the cold weather. Compared to readers in Texas who suffered because homes and water systems are not built for extreme cold, needing to keep my car in the garage for a day seemed a small sacrifice. However, I was happy that I was ready not just to endure winter, but to find ways to enjoy the season.
How I’ve Prepared
Preparing for another month of winter weather started with the decision to adopt a positive mindset. March brings longer days and more sunshine. The bright sun is deceptive as the winds are still bitingly cold. In the snowy scene above, taken last weekend, readers can see that there is still lots of snow in Ontario!
I’ve challenged myself to think of winter 2021 as an opportunity to develop a repertoire of adaptive responses to enjoy every day. Instead of pinning for an escape to a sunny climate, I’m determined to stay excited about daily adventures to cope with the Canadian winter.
In my younger years, a positive winter mindset was easier as I loved skiing, skating, tobogganing, and snowshoeing. After a hip replacement, I had to abandon these sports as most easily cause a fall and, potentially a dislocation which I’m not risking. The winter exercise of choice for 2021 is walking in my neighbourhood, in the nearby conservation area, or in a large park nearby.
In December I acquired a winter wardrobe that enabled me to enjoy the outdoors on most days. I found fleece-lined boots with sturdy soles, woollen socks, down-filled mittens, sunglasses designed for snow glare, a warm toque, and my windproof hooded jacket with a double fleece liner. Donning this outwear plus my headphones for listening to my favourite podcasts takes a good 7 to 10 minutes but allows me to walk 2 to 3 miles every day without getting chilled. On the coldest days, wearing a mask helps as well because it provides additional coverage on my face.
Hygge at Home
To complement outdoor activities, my winter mindset includes hygge, a word associated with feelings of wellness and contentment. When I researched hygge techniques last year, I was fascinated by aspects of the Danish culture that incorporated comfort and coziness. https://www.postworksavvy.com/embracing-hygge-to-enjoy-winter/
Especially in winter, the Danes seek well-being from a lifestyle inspired by warmth and relaxation. Winter menus feature soups, stews, and curries that can simmer all day. Candles are important in creating the right atmosphere. We eat every dinner with candles on the table and full-bodied wine to complement the food. In the evenings we shut the blinds, draw the drapes and snuggle in front of the fireplace.
Readers who want to explore hygge may find more information here. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-year-of-hygge-the-danish-obsession-with-getting-cozy
Technology and Hobbies to Amuse
Technology is another aid for keeping a positive winter mindset. Since COVID hit in March 2020, I’ve discovered virtual tours of museums and art galleries. Most of these tours are free and allow me to visit at my leisure. Along with digital books, podcasts, zooming, streaming and good old cable tv, I amuse myself for hours.
My favourite winter hobby is knitting, something that I can do while watching movies or tv newscasts. I’ve tackled my stash of yarn and completed several shawls, toques, headbands, and mittens. Recently, I’ve been charmed by making socks on four needles — a more challenging knitting project!
For the long hours indoors, I rely on a large stack of books — some were Christmas gifts, some came from a quick trip to the library before the ‘stay-at-home’ order, and some are from raids on my husband’s bookshelf. I also use the Libby app to download best sellers from the library.
The most important aspect of keeping a positive winter mindset in 2021 was the resolution to stay hopeful. I know that winter will end in a few weeks; I know that spring will bring opportunities for other pleasant outdoor activities such as gardening; I know that vaccines will allow opportunities to see friends again. Hope makes any situation bearable and is most effective in counteracting anxiety.