Get ready for winter! It’s here to stay for a while

Lisa Fisher, Health Promotion Specialist

Girl playing with snow in winter

Photo: iClipart

The first day of winter is officially December 21. Despite this, many people would argue that winter has already arrived in Cold Lake. There is a blanket of white covering our lawns, albeit not yet a thick blanket. The roads have already seen sand thrown on them to combat against icy patches. The temperature has dipped quite low, forcing some of us to pull out winter coats from our closets and don our toques and gloves. Even though it may not be “officially” winter, the cold weather is here and, with that, comes specific health concerns.

Daylight Savings Time has ended, leading to shorter days. It may now feel like you should be in bed when it’s only dinner time. Some of us may start feeling more anxious, stressed and depressed with the shorter and colder days. Although this could be fleeting, it could also be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you notice that you have felt depressed during the winter months, but feel much better in the summer, you should speak to your healthcare practitioner about your concerns.

You may be posted to Cold Lake and absolutely love the winter – which is fantastic! You may, however, not like the cold weather and may have already started hibernating, leaving your house only to go to work or to get groceries. Anyone can be susceptible to feeling restless and frustrated while cooped up in their homes; although those diagnosed with SAD may struggle with these feelings on a more intense level as they may lack the motivation to try to engage in alternate activities. If you don’t like being in frigid weather, or have an aversion to snow, then find an indoor hobby that you can enjoy.

Take the winter as an opportunity to catch up on reading some great books, putting together a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, or learning some new healthy recipes.

Ensure that you are continuing to be physically active during the winter months. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for adults aged 18-64 states that you should accumulate 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-physical activity per week and include bone and muscle strengthening activities at least twice per week. You could try a new outdoor activity such as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, hit the gym on base or in your community, or work out at home. Keep in mind that you don’t need expensive equipment to work out at home.

Winter weather is also generally synonymous with flu season. Although flu season runs from autumn to early spring, many people link winter and the flu together. The seasonal flu can put you at risk for other infections, including viral or bacterial pneumonia. Those who are at higher risk of complications include those aged 65 or older, very young children, and people who have lung or heart diseases, certain chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems. Even if this doesn’t describe you, it may describe someone in your family or friend circle. If you haven’t yet, it’s important to get the influenza vaccine to protect yourself and your family against the flu. Ensure you are also washing your hands regularly and staying home from work or social functions when you are feeling ill.

If you are looking for more information regarding how to stay healthy throughout the winter months, contact your healthcare practitioner, mental health services or the Health Promotion Department at local 6958.

References

• Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. (n.d.). Canadian physical activity guidelines for adults – 18-64 years. Retrieved from https://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_adults_en.pdf
• HealthLink Bc. (Dec 2018). Your health this winter. Retrieved from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-feature/winter