8 Ways to Cope with Canadian Winters

When moving to a new country there are a lot of factors to consider. A common question I get is “How are the winters there?”. So, here are some tips to manage (and even enjoy) Canadian winters.


1. Dress for the weather

This one may be an obvious one, but you have to wear layers in the winter months! 

I often see people struggling in the cold AND at the SAME TIME, not dressing appropriately for it. 

While some people will just add a coat to their outfit and switch their sandals for boots, the key to surviving the winter is adding another layer to all skin exposed to the air. So, make sure to pack your coats, boots, thick socks, scarfs, gloves and hats if you’re heading into a Canadian winter. You will also want to invest in snow pants if you plan on spending more than 15 minutes outdoors.

2. Give yourself extra time in the morning

It takes longer to get from A to B in the winter months. People move and drive slower. Also, if you have a vehicle, you will need extra time to heat up your car. You may also need to brush off snow or scrape ice from the windows in the morning. If you plan ahead though and are aware of this change to your routine, you will be able to get to your final destination on time and without added stress.  

3. Soak in the light… when you can


When trying to get through a Canadian winter, it is important to note that it’s not just the temperature you need to deal with, it’s the lack of sunlight as well. 

In Toronto on December 1st, the sun sets at approximately 4:40pm. With the sun rising at 7:30am, this means if you work a standard 8:00am – 5:00pm work day, you most likely will be going to and from work in the dark. 

This can be mentally exhausting as your body naturally believes that night time is for sleeping.

Good news is there are a few ways to manage this: go for walks during the day to get in the sunlight when it is available, get a sun lamp for your living quarters, or adjust your schedule so that indoor activities are occurring when it’s dark outside. Another option is adding vitamins to your health routine. 

4. Consider taking a vitamin D supplement 


With less exposure to sunlight, your body will no doubt get less vitamin D in the winter months versus the summer months. A good way to counter this is to take a vitamin D supplement. 


I am no doctor, so talk to your health care professional about ways you can help your body combat the colder environment.


5. Stay hydrated and moisturize dry skin


In the summer, you might find yourself drinking lots of water due to the heat. Come winter, you may find yourself drinking more hot beverages like coffee or hot chocolate. It’s important to stay hydrated (even in the winter months) to help your body stay healthy. Moreover, the cold air can cause your skin to dry. 


I find myself having itchy dry skin in the winter months and needing to up my skin-care-game to stay comfortable.


6. Take up a hobby

Winters can feel long and depressing when you aren’t able to (or want to) spend long periods of time outside. One way to push through the winter months is to take up a hobby or two. Some examples could be: 

Outdoor Activities
  • Skiing

  • Snowboarding

  • Skating

Indoor Activities
  • Board games

  • Yoga

  • Indoor rock climbing

Having a winter activity as a hobby makes the winter months more enjoyable. You may actually learn you are good at something new and start to look forward to the winter months to hit the hills again!

7. Stay active and manage your sleep routine


It’s important to not surrender to the cold. Get outside, breathe in the fresh air, and don’t let your sleep routine take over your day. Back to my points above, the sun isn’t out as long which means your body thinks it’s bedtime much earlier than it should. Try to maintain the times you go to bed and wake up so you aren’t sleeping longer than you should. 


8. Remember that winter doesn’t last forever

While Canada does have some of the coldest winters in the world, it’s important to note that we also have hot summers as well! 

Written by Rebecca B. Tripp

Originally posted on December 13, 2021.

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