Updated: Jan 10
Tina Dang, SABVC's School of Technology Representative on Students' Council, is a Bow Valley College student who knows the challenges of adapting to the winter in Canada. Here are her 7 tips for new Canadians getting through their first Canadian winter:
1. Don’t bring winter clothing from your home country
When you move to Canada, one of the exciting first things you'll do is prepare some warm clothing. In my preparations, I made the same mistake as anyone else: I bought a lot of winter clothing before I left and brought it all to Canada. Right the moment I arrived in this country, I realized I couldn’t use the clothing I bought because, in a hot country, winter clothing can tend to focus on fashion features rather than warmth. Back home, we'd wear these types of clothes to take photos and try to look like fashionistas. However, Canadian warm clothing is actually warm. It may not be as appealing as the clothing you'd bring from your home country, but it will certainly keep you warm. I recommend buying proper warm products in Canada instead of clothing suited to the winter in another country.
2. Moisturize your skin and eyes
Canadian winter is extremely cold and dry, especially in Calgary. Additionally, due to most heating systems burning gas, the air in our homes is dry too. Moisturizing your skin and eyes frequently is helpful advice, in my experience. You can apply lotion after a bath or before bedtime to keep your skin smooth and prevent itchiness. Also, use eye drops daily or anytime you feel itchy. It’s easy to find skin lotion and dry eye drops in supermarkets or pharmacies.
3. Shower everyday
You may think this tip sounds funny, but don’t be fooled into thinking you shouldn’t take a shower just because it’s cold. While you might assume you're cleaner in the winter because you sweat less frequently, it's important to remember the human body produces dead cells all the time. Therefore, taking shower frequently will keep your body clean and comfortable. After a hot shower, your body will be clean and relaxed. This will lift your mood, too!
4. Exercise regularly
We all understand the advantages of exercise, but sometimes cold weather pulls our motivation down. To avoid exercise procrastination, try to set up a schedule and stick with it regardless of the weather conditions. If the gym isn't for you, you can choose simple and inexpensive exercises like walking, hiking, jogging, biking, or at-home wellness sessions such as SABVC's Bright Pass. No matter what kind of exercise you practice, it's important keep your body moving. Walking is one of my personal favorites. You can walk around your neighborhood, at school, or in a shopping mall if it's too cold outside. Keeping yourself active is great for preventing boredom, too.
5. Walk like a penguin
Many friends have told me that they fell at least once in the winter. I fell once in my first winter, and here is what I learned from this. Try to walk on the sidewalk and avoid ice paths. If you must choose between stepping on snow and an icy area, stepping on snow will be much less slippery. But, if you have no choice, learn to walk like a penguin:
Do the Penguin Walk (source: Alberta Health Services)
Bend slightly and walk flat-footed
Point your feet out slightly like a penguin
Keep your center of gravity over your feet as much as possible
Watch where you are stepping
Take shorter, shuffle-like steps
Keep your arms at your sides (not in your pockets!)
Concentrate on keeping your balance
6. Eat soup and drink warm water
This is a great way to warm up your body, prevent dehydration and maintain your weight. When it is cold, people can fall out of healthy habits easily. To stay hydrated, warm tea or coffee is essential to keep your body warm and provide your body with enough amount of liquids. Soup is also a good choice during winter because it is tasty and healthier than fried foods. Soup also increases the daily fluid intake. I personally like watching TV on a winter evening while enjoying a warm chicken soup.
7. Keep a positive mindset
Some people aren't fans of winter in Canada, but we can't change the weather. Try to see the good sides of winter. For example, winter is the period for us to slow down and spend more time with our family. Winter also teaches us how to respect other times of the year, so we will use them effectively. Open your mind to the idea that winter brings a unique beauty and experience to your life. So, let’s go to discover it. Try ice skating with your friends. Take some photos with snow and upload them to your social media. I bet you there will be many people from tropical countries wishing to have a chance to play with snow like you.