This morning, I woke up to Environment Canada’s extreme cold warning for Winnipeg because of the temperatures in the minus 30s and extreme wind chills of minus 40 to minus 50.
Environment Canada issues extreme cold warnings when very cold temperatures or wind chill creates an elevated risk to health such as frost bite and hypothermia. And today is one of those days for us here in Winnipeg.
I guess, it is safe to say that Old Man Winter is really unleashing the brunt of its intense cold weather. I am trying not to rant about this “unwelcome weather” because I don’t want to hear my colleagues at work asking me, “where are you again, Cristina?” Yes, every time I come to work and unconsciously complaint about how cold the weather is, they will remind me that I wouldn’t be in “Winterpeg” (Winnipeg) if winter is not letting me experience plunging temperatures or white-out conditions in the road.
But even if I have encountered winter season for 8 times already, I will be honest to say that I will not get used to it. Depending where you are in Canada, winter can last for 6 months, though, our calendar tells us that winter officially starts in December, but in some places and in my experience, there are years that heavy snow fall starts in late October… and snow will stay until March (or much later!)
Every year, I go through the same cycle, every first day of September and as soon as I see the leaves change its color and start to fall, there’s this an unexplainable sadness that I feel. Each year, I always hope that maybe winter will not be that bad or it won’t get so cold. I know it’s funny, but yes, that’s me every year. If my memory serves me right (or maybe I am just in denial) the last time that I could recall having as low as -40 wind chill in Winnipeg was in 2013. The past 2 years were just as low as -30 wind chill. But who am I kidding, winter is winter! And for immigrants like me who came from a tropical country and has never experienced winter in their home country – regardless whether the temperature is -1 or -50, winter is cold! Adjusting and getting used to the layered clothing, heavy jacket and boots and walking in the pile of snow is big deal for us.
So, for the interest of those who met Mr. Old Winter for the first time, here are some of the tips that I used as my guide to keep my sanity still intact until I finally see signs of spring around me. I never thought that one day, I will come up with a post about “winter survival tips” so I didn’t bother to add into my notes where I got the ideas or tips that I used as my guide whenever this cold season comes. But what I am sharing in this post were tips from various sources which I compiled through the years.
Check the weather regularly. This is one of the first things that I learned when I moved to Canada. Each day as soon as I wake up, I would instantly turn the TV on and tune in to the weather channel to see what the weather looks like and I can plan what I should wear according to the weather forecast. In this day and age where anything can be downloaded using smart phone, it is also advisable to download a weather app.
Dress appropriately and invest in good quality warm clothing and foot wear. During winter season the most common reminders that you will hear would be “keep warm” or “bundle up.” And for me, the true secret of staying warm is layer method of dressing. Dressing up in layers is more effective in than just having one single bulky garment. I learned that the way to dress up in a very cold season is to put on the right clothing, starting with a base layer made of merino wool synthetic fabrics or silk would be best, then adding a mid-layer that’s down-filled, or synthetic down-filled will help you keep insulated and the best outer layer or the part of your clothing that will protect you from wind, rain or snow should be something that’s made from a fabric such as Gore-Tex. As for boots stick get a light, waterproof and insulated pair (with a good tread as well) which will not sacrifice your comfort.
And of course, you have to make sure that you also protect your extremities with the proper accessories as well. Your head, fingers, toes and even your ankles, wrists and neck can get very cold quickly, hence, particular attention should be paid to keep them warm by getting the right pair of gloves or mittens, a scarf or a neck warmer and good pair of socks. In a very cold weather, the simplest way to ensure that you protect your head is to put on a hat or a toque.
Eat comfort food. Another important thing that I learned in dealing with winter is finding and preparing the right kind of food for the season. Winter comfort food is all about hearty casseroles and warm soups. During winter, the best food to eat are those that are slow-cooked, roasted or baked. Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian recommends root vegetables, oatmeal, soup, spicy tuna roll and Broccoli and cauliflower as the 5 must eat food in winter. There are a lot of must eat food and recipes that can be find in the internet which will help you in starting with your winter comfort food and I have listed some of them in the bottom part of this post.
Plan a project or indulge with your interest. If you are someone like me who tends to hibernate at home during the cold season, make use of this time to make staying at home work for you. You can start a home improvement project or you can use your time at home to study or learn something new. Why not consider starting to paint your bedroom or your bathroom or organize your basement, or you could start learning how to bake or maybe take an online course. You can also think of putting up a blog or maybe apply to become a virtual volunteer. I know that winter tends to make us feel uninspired and tempts us to lay down and spend all day in front of the TV or computer, but don’t give in and soak yourself to boredom by not doing anything about it. Take advantage of wanting to stay at home and try to catch up in doing something that you’ve been wanting to do.
Take time to see your friends. Have fun with your friends and plan a get together. During summer, it is kind of hard to set a time that you and your friends will be available at the same time because for sure each of you have your own plan for the summer. Maybe, your friends are also thinking of finding ways to get through with the winter, contact your friends that you have not seen for a while and plan a movie night or even a cooking night.
Plan a getaway. Going for a vacation is for sure costly, but there are some people I know who plan a getaway during winter. If you can afford for a vacation or even for a short-range trip why not do it? Head to hot destination somewhere south or you can even just do a “staycation” and try to find something to do after work or during your days off like going for a spa, an indoor wall climbing, going to museum, watching a concert or anything that can perk you up.
These are just very few of the ways that you can try doing to beat the cold and survive the winter season. I will be honest to admit that I really find winter to be one of the tough times that we have to go through each year, but as I always tell myself each year, it’ll be easier if I will always remember that “winter will eventually end and spring will soon show up.” Nothing lasts forever, not even winter. There’s always 4 seasons in Canada and spring will come after a few short months of having short days and longer nights.
50 winter comfort foods to help you beat the cold weather blues, retrieved January 13, 2017.
5 Foods You Should Eat This Winter, retrieved January 13, 2017.
22 Meals to Make When You’re Snowed In, retrieved January 13, 2017.