Health and Wellness

Three Reminders for Winter Wellness

Got a case of the winter blues? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! The dark and gloomy weather can make us want to curl up under a pile of blankets all season long, preventing us from taking care of our mental and physical well-being in the process. Consider these three reminders to keep your mind and body active (and warm!) this winter season.

Picture of a person bent down to tie their shoe laces on a bridge, wearing winter clothing                                                                         

One of the most common pieces of advice for avoiding the winter blues is to get outside and soak up some winter sun. While exercise is always a great way to release endorphins and relieve stress, it can be hard to find the motivation to get moving when there’s snow and slush on the ground. Trying new activities, fitness apps, or listening to a new podcast can be great motivators to start exercising again. Check out BlogTo’s list of 50 Toronto-based podcasts for some new listening material. My personal podcast recommendation is Nobody Cares (Except for Me), where writer and host Anne T. Donahue invites people to talk about a passion of theirs that no one else seems to care about. Listen to people explain their absurd obsessions with meal planning, The Bachelor, Garfield fan art, and more!

If you’re not up to bracing the cold, consider indoor activities such as rock climbing at Joe Rockhead’s Indoor Rock Climbing downtown or signing up for a Family Yoga class at Octopus Garden Holistic Yoga Centre. Even walking through the Allan Gardens greenhouses, or another indoor green space, can help brighten your mood by taking you out of the cold.

4 people standing on a snowy ground with winter boots on and a dog on a leash with paw covers on


Socializing can feel like a much bigger effort during the winter, but it’s important to keep in contact with friends and loved ones while we brave through the winter months. This could be as low-effort as having a movie marathon with a friend. If there’s a movie your family is dying to see, drop by the local Cineplex for their Family Favourites events on Saturdays at 11:00am, when admission is $2.99 a person. If you’d rather curl up on the couch, the University of Toronto also offers a free movie streaming service to its students, which can be accessed here on the U of T library website.

Be sure to also check out our upcoming Family Events on Campus! Kick off your children’s PA Day long weekend on Thursday, January 16, 2020 from 5:00 – 7:30 pm at our Student Families Pizza Night.

For another low-effort winter activity, make time for a visit to one of Toronto’s board game cafes! If you’re in need of a recommendation, Snakes and Lattes is a child-friendly cafe with four locations across the GTA and an extensive collection of games to select from. Play all the games you want over a mug of steaming hot chocolate for $8 a person.

Silhouette of a person facing a word map


Dr. Norman Rosenthal, who pioneered research in seasonal affective disorder, emphasizes the importance of mindfulness and meditation in combating depressive moods during the winter. Practicing deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can have calming and restorative results that reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can help to have a hobby or project to work on in order to keep your hands busier than your brain and force your thoughts to slow down. With the winter snow outside, you might take a knitting class at a local craft store and make some warm winter hats and scarves for loved ones. Or, with the New Year upon us, you could pick up a notebook and start a journaling practice. The Family Care Office also has a cold weather craft series for some creative inspiration for you and your family to try out this winter. Check out part one, two , and three here!

While it can be difficult to keep your spirits up during these dark and cold winter months, remember that snow won’t last forever. By focusing on your winter wellness now, you’ll be ready to enjoy the great spring weather as soon as it arrives!