How to Enjoy Long Winters

Every season has its own joys and challenges. During the summer, the joys can be camping, hiking, and swimming in a lake. The challenges are mosquitoes, and on some days, unbearable heat.

In the winter, the joys can be hot chocolates and snuggling in a cozy blanket while watching your favourite series.  It is hard to see the joys of enjoying the outdoors this season and that is normal. Many people feel the same way. Who doesn’t like to be warm and comfy during the winter months? The opportunities to get out of the house, like commuting to work or attending an event, can still be limited this season. This means we may be spending a lot of time cooped up in our homes and not in the sunlight. The absence of sunlight can contribute to seasonal affective disorder or the “winter blues”.

Mental health issues have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Making use of the outdoors is one way we can stop our pandemic blues from meeting our winter blues. Spending time outside is also good for our mental health, so try to get out there this season.

Did you know that Alberta is one of the sunniest provinces in Canada? There are many physically distanced, low-cost or free activities to do so that you can still enjoy the outdoors and the limited sunlight. When all bundled up, our winter city can be very enjoyable. 

11 outdoor activities and events to help boost your mood

  1. Forest bathe: This is the process of being in nature and consciously absorbing the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the place you are at. It can be as simple as stepping out of your home for a minute and listening to the air. 
  2. Walk in the river valley: Edmonton’s river valley is a great place to go for a winter hike. You’ll feel like you’re out of the city and get to enjoy the beautiful, white scenery while soaking up Vitamin D.
  3. Cross-country skiing: Do you feel like doing something other than walking? The City of Edmonton has accessible cross-country ski trails that are open and free for everyone. 
  4. Skating: When you don’t feel like walking, there are many spots in the river valley to skate for free with low-fee skate rentals if needed. 
  5. Tobogganing: Sliding down a hill can make you feel like a child again. There are many free toboggan hills in Edmonton you can try out with friends and family.
  6. Winter family photoshoot: The river valley is also a great place to have your own family winter photoshoot. Make use of the natural light and capture silly photos with the loved ones in your immediate bubble.
  7. Deep Freeze festival: You can enjoy musical performances, short films, and ice sculptures. The festival is free!
  8. Snow contests: With an abundance of snow, you can have contests to see who can make the best snowman, or whose snow angel looks the most angelic.
  9. Flying Canoe Volant: Festival go-ers will be wandering around Indigenous tipis, admiring Indigenous arts, and enjoying dance performances. This outdoor festival is a must-do if you appreciate local Canadian folklore and great story-telling. 
  10. Snowball fight: One of the best ways to feel better is through movement. Get running around and have a friendly snowball fight. The best part? Your ammo is free and refillable!
  11. Volunteer work or act of kindness: Lift your spirits by helping someone in need. You can remain physically distanced while shovelling snow for someone who is unable to do it themselves.

The key to fully enjoying the winter is walking out your front door!

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Mental health therapists are available if you would like to talk about seasonal affective disorder or other concerns. Counselling sessions are available virtually, over the phone, or in-person.