Ready or not, here comes winter: How to keep safe and enjoy yourself

By Caroline Chenoweth

As the nights become shorter and the days cooler, many of us feel our mood and activity levels starting to drop. So it’s important to find ways to stay upbeat and active even on the dreariest of days. Here are a few things that can help turn winter into a friend.

Safety first

If you’re worried yourself or a loved one driving in bad weather, call a taxi or an Uber or ask a friend to give you a lift rather than take a risk. Don’t go out if your walkway isn’t shoveled and salted. You can call on local services to request assistance. In Toronto, for instance, you can call 311 to get your street plowed or your sidewalk shoveled. Provide yourself with extra safety by buying walking poles (otherwise known as Nordic poles) and treads that attach to the soles of your winter boots for extra traction on the sidewalk. Ask for them at sports apparel stores, such as SportChek or Mark’s.

Look for inside or group activities

Prepping for winter does not need to mean hunkering down for five months of loneliness.

• Community activities: They are often held at libraries, seniors centres or cultural/religious buildings, and many are free of charge.

• Mall-walking: Most malls are open before business hours to accommodate groups and individuals.

• Meetup: The Meetup website is a place where local groups can publicize themselves and their events. It’s free to sign up.

• Memberships: What about a local art gallery or museum membership?

• Volunteering: Hospitals, community groups and charities are always looking for volunteers to assist with events and other activities.

Caroline Chenoweth, MScOT Reg (Ont) has practiced occupational therapy within long-term care homes, seniors-focused family health teams and acute-care hospitals.

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