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The Cold, Harsh Prairies: Surviving Edmonton’s Winter.

The dark, cold days of winter are finally upon us. For those who are new to Edmonton or those who have willfully suppressed the memory of the harsh reality of winter, this can be a disgruntling  time.  Surviving the five to six months of winter in Edmonton is a test of one’s patience, endurance, and mental aptitude. So, here are a few pointers that will hopefully make the next few months a  little less foggy and a little more egg-noggy:


1)       Don’t plan to get anywhere on time.

Or, just plan to leave the house super early. Plan for travel time. Cold temperatures slow everything down. This includes driving, public transit, and walking. Give yourself extra time to get everywhere! Not only does this lower your stress from constantly worrying about being late but it will also make you much more safety-conscious. Attempting to rush around, drive quickly or run on snow-covered ice in the winter is just asking for trouble.


2)       Learn to ‘Ice Shuffle’

A true Edmontonian skill is the ability to walk on icy sidewalks without falling. This expertise does not come overnight, but with a bit of practice it can save your body from a few bruises and some major butt aches. Rules of a mitten-covered thumb: stay relaxed. Do not freeze and freak out as soon as you start slipping and sliding – you will fall. Instead, stay ‘cool’ and simply glide on the ice. Shuffle along, not lifting your feet far off the ground, and soon you will be off on your merry way to class. Hoorah!


3)       Dress in Layers

The balance between staying warm and being too warm is never easy. Going from being bundled up and surviving the -15C or worse outside to being comfortable at 20C inside can be tricky. Dressing in layers is the best way to get the best of both worlds. Wear stockings or long underwear under your jeans, or perhaps avoid wearing cotton as a base layer for example. As you warm up you can begin to peel off some of your layers, putting them in your locker to avoid excessive and confusing sweating as the day goes on. Dressing in layers also provides an excellent excuse to go shopping.


4)       Keep Exercising

When it is dark at 5pm and -20C outside it can be terribly tempting to stay at home and watch an extra hour of Netflix instead of getting your sweat on. The days of running in the river valley or playing ultimate frisbee with friends are long gone, but keep exercising! Start cross-country skiing, hit the yoga studio or go swimming at a nearby pool. Winter gets a lot more bearable with a little break to get your heart rate elevated. Not only does exercise improve your self-image, but it also makes the dark days a little brighter.


5)       Get Any Sunlight Possible

As the days become terribly short, sunshine becomes a rare commodity. I find just getting a little sunlight each day helps inspire hope that winter will eventually come to an end. The LawBuilding is designed to keep sunshine and hope away from us students so this may take a bit of effort but it is well worth it. Sit by a window in the library, step outside for a breath of fresh, frosty air or simply walk outside instead of taking the university’s massive pedway system. Light therapy has been shown to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder and we all really need to work on our ‘tans’ over the winter anyways.


6)    Enjoy the Beauty of Winter

Finally, while winter can be truly terrible for reasons already mentioned, it also can be a beautiful time of the year. The crisp clear mornings, the soft fluffy snowflakes and the sound of snow crunching under your boots should be enjoyed! Winter allows you to appreciate marshmallowy hot chocolate, Christmas lights shining through the sparkling snow and cozy times by the fire with friends. Playing hockey on an outdoor rink, going skiing in the mountains, visiting Candycane Lane and shoveling sidewalks are all activities that make winter the joyous time that it is, so appreciate them!

Hopefully these tips will help make the winter a little more bearable for you this year. Good luck with finals and Happy Holidays.