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Winter weather is on its way, bringing with it holidays, winter sports, and the perfect conditions for the spread of Coronavirus. Viruses will be living long lives, spreading happily through our cold winter air, as we are forced inside, leaving behind the little outdoor socializing we were allowed to do. As someone who is already adverse to winter, a Coronavirus winter is something that truly terrifies me. So, I was inspired to survey my peers, professors, and community mental health professionals; asking them to give us their best tips for surviving a Coronavirus winter, hoping for some magical trick that would change my perspective on these cold months. What I got was a group of students just as ‘excited’ as I and some professors claiming a warm tuque is all we need. In fact, all but three out of the 13 students surveyed answered, “This will not be fun” when asked, “How are you feeling about the impending winter weather?” The other three either answered, “Indifferent” or “This is my worst nightmare.” While other respondents, mostly professors and mental health professionals, overwhelmingly responded “Kind of excited” and “Yay can't wait, best time of the year.” So what I received was a list of tips from fellow pessimistic students and glass-half full adults to share with you. Hopefully they will inspire you, or at least show you that you are not alone in your fears for a Coronavirus winter.
Bundle up and get outside
A significant amount of the answers encouraged going outside as much as possible despite temperatures. Some respondents matched my energy about the cold outdoors, admitting they will probably need a friend's encouragement to get outside. Others fully advocated embracing the outdoors, one person writing, “if it's sunny, don't walk, RUN to bask in its glory even if it is -15 outside.” A particularly inspiring response wrote:
“Winter is one of the best times for restoration and recreation in nature - even nearby urban nature. The snow brightens up the landscape and provides some spectacular scenery. With fewer leaves left on the trees, you can see the antics of winter wildlife such as squirrels and birds. More elusive critters leave tracks - each morning it's like uncovering a secret mysterious world.”
While this is certainly not how my brain works, I love to hear how we can see the positive in the death of the trees and the freezing snow, something I will think about once it has fully transitioned to winter. Karen L. Blair, Professor in the Psychology Department, suggested making a “Trent University Winter Activity Bucket List”. I love this idea, so I decided to start my own list using survey responses and my own ideas from growing up in this area. I hope you find some ideas or are inspired to make your own list.
Winter Activities in the Kawarthas:
If “uncovering a secret mysterious world” in the snow, slush, ice and dirt does not sound very appealing, then this next portion is for you. While the professors I surveyed tended to give a lot of outdoor fun tips, students came through with some indoor ideas for us all. What I gathered from the responses was that the majority of students will be doubling down on their past quarantined selves, and will be baking, knitting, and reading, only this time with a candle and thick socks. One mental health professional reminded us to “stay connected to pets,” and “take care of yourself and loved ones.” A student with a similar message wrote that they will be crocheting for other people, their advice was to “reach out to friends and family and try to help them as much as you can (without forgetting to take care of yourself, too)!” In summary, the respondents recommend candles, hot beverages, books, board games, video games, cookies, and lots of self care.
Finally, I wanted to include a list of general tips that I received that I found helpful. Remember that us students feel just as anxious as you, and professors and mental health professionals are here to help, whether that is with fun winter activity ideas, inspiring messages, or counselling from the Wellness Centre. I highly recommend reaching out if winter does get too hard. Without further ado, here are the final tips from respondents: