I have news for you: you do not have to spend the rest for your life hating winter and being miserable in your cold country.
Just because you think you don’t like the cold does not mean that it has to be this way for ever; you can actually learn to love the cold. Also, just because you are always feeling so cold, does not mean that you are condemned to always being cold for the rest of your life. You can become more resilient to the cold than you previously were.
There is no bad weather: only bad clothing… and attitude.
Turns out you can stop hating winter and change the way you relate to the cold. And you can also become less sensitive to the cold. But it takes some basic knowledge, a little effort, and a willingness to adapt. You will have to adopt new habits and a new attitude towards the cold, or the weather in general.
My point is, you may hate winter now, but it’s really up to you to change that. And you can change that.
When I first arrived in Canada 13 years ago, I knew very little about cold climates. I fell in love with the winters here but I wasn’t adequately prepared to face them. I knew NOTHING about how to dress for winter, the best fabrics to keep me warm, proper heating, winter activities, and all the possibilities winter can offer.
And so, for a while, I hated the cold and really endured winter.
BUT all that finally changed once I learned first, how to dress properly for winter; secondly, changed my attitude toward winter and the weathe rin general; and three, once I started doing outside, despite the cold.
There are things you can do that make you more resistant to the cold and not be always freezing.
This means, you don’t have to endure winter like it’s a tragedy. And you certainly don’t have to be born in a cold country to be able to feel at ease in the cold… or to enjoy it.
Are you ready?
Here are a few tips that will hopefully help you stop hating winter, and even fall in love with the colder months.
7 Rules for making friends with winter
Rule #1. Winter: it’s here. Accept it. Respect it.
One of the most important steps to developing a healthier relationship with the weather and quit bitching about the cold, starts with accepting what is.
So often I hear people complaining about winter or “how horrible the weather is today” without even trying to enjoy it, or to “get to know it”.
Yes, learning to appreciate winter (and the weather in general) is like getting to know someone from a completely different culture. It can be scary and uncomfortable at first, but if you keep an open mind, are willing to let go of your pre(mis)conceptions, and adapt a little, you could make a lovely new friend.
The point is, Canada (or wherever you are) is a northern country known for its long, cold, beautiful winters. It gets cold up here, for many, many months. After fall comes winter: that is a fact.
You could stay in denial. You could wish there weren’t any winters, that summers last indefinitely or that you were somewhere else… But you are not. You are here.
So, either you move south, or you try to make the best of it.
The first step to stop hating winter and becoming more at ease in the cold starts with accepting that it’s here.
Pretending things were different only makes it more difficult for you when reality hits, i.e., every single time you have to leave the house. It creates friction, discomfort, and frustration. Lots of frustration! And you are most likely cold, very cold, most of the time. Half of the year, or longer.
That’s a long time don’t you think?
Don’t get me wrong. You can hibernate all you want if that’s your thing.
But hibernation makes you weaker and more vulnerable tot the cold when you leave the house. Whcih makes you more likely to hate winter even more… and experience winter depression or winter blues.
If you feel like you are suffering through winter every year, and you know deep down you’ve been trying to avoid reality… maybe you could try and adopt a new attitude, make a few changes and see how it goes?
Winter deserves our respect, just as much as spring, summer and fall.
You can look grumpily through your over-heated apartment’s window, not set one foot outside for 6 months, be depressed and wish it was summer… OR, you could put on your snow pants, thick gloves and go play in the snow!
You can either fight the current, which is exhausting. Or you can find yourself a floating device, and surf!
It’s only up to you. The cold and the snow won’t go away. (Well, let’s hope they won’t. I’m looking at you, climate change!).
So, for things to go a bit more smoothly and stoping hating winter, start by acknowledging and accepting that, for the time being, the weather is what it is. And then find ways to adapt to it as much as possible.
Rule #2. There is no bad weather, only bad clothing
Do you know why you are always so cold, and always hating winter? Because you don’t dress appropriately for it.
I know, the topic of how to dress for winter could be an article in and of itself, so I won’t pretend to cover it all here. Also, I’m not an expert in that topic.
But if you hate winter, that’s probably because you don’t dress appropriately for it, EVEN THOUGH you think you do.
Here are a few key elements to have in mind when dressing up for winter.
- Tight jeans, or jeans in general, are not your friend. Denim is simply not the appropriate fabric for cold weather unless maybe you wear lined jeans or thermal tights underneath. Seriously, forget about your skinny jeans and “cute” fall outfits and start embracing the fact that it’s cold outside. And dress as such!
- Prefer loose-fitting clothes (pants, coats). This allows the heat from your body to stay between the fabric and your body, keeping you warm and cozy when you move.
- Understand fabrics (once I discovered merino wool, I was not the same person, haha!)
- Layering is an art. Learn it! I personally opt for a tank top with a high neckline, with a 100% cotton t-shirt (with long or short sleeves depending on how cold it is) on top, followed by a) either a thin merino wool turtleneck and/or b) a warmer sweater (usually a mix of wool and alpaca, for example).
- Keep your hands, head, and feet warm. Sometimes you don’t need an extra layer, you just need a hat. You will not believe how many times I’ve heard people say they are cold, but never want to wear a hat “because it doesn’t suit them”. Come on people!
- Be prepared and choose your equipment according to the reality of your environment. Choose a pair of boots that have a good grip (I love love, love, love these Timberlands! I have had mine for 8 years now and they are still going strong); keep a pair of ice grips like these on you at all times (I keep them on a carabiner attached to my backpack); carry a backpack!
- Lastly, it’s important to understand your own specific needs and adjust. For example, I have noticed that my ears are extremely sensitive to the cold. No matter how many layers I wear on my body, if my ears are unprotected, I will be freezing and end up resenting the cold. Solution? I always keep a pair of earmuffs or a hat on me, at all times.
I understand that what you wear will depend on the type of activities you have planned for the day. You will probably not dress the same way for a night out in town with your friends, as you would for a 3-hour hike.
But still, if you want to be stronger and more resistant to the cold, it might be time to seriously reconsider you wardrobe.
Rule # 3. The weather: don’t avoid it. Face it.
This means: Go outside.
Seriously. Even if you don’t feel like it. Just go.
There is no escaping this. If you are to stop hating winter, you must face it and go outside. It is so important, that it can make or break all your efforts… so just do it.
I once spent a whole winter hibernating, only leaving the house a few times a week to work (part-time), and for groceries. And even when I was going to work, I only had a 3-minute walk to the nearest metro station. So basically, I was never outside.
Let me tell you, that was one of the coldest, longest, most miserable winter of my entire life. I had literally become a weak puppy, had zero endurance, and zero tolerance to the cold. I was cold all the time, no matter where I went, what I did, or how I dressed. And that year, my depression had also reached a new low.
But now that I run or walk outside almost every-day no matter the weather, (yes, I now jog outside during the winter months. Me!!), it’s almost as if I don’t feel the cold anymore.
But guess what? As soon as I stop doing it for more than 2 days in a row, I become miserable and way more vulnerable to the cold again. Which means, I start hating the cold… again.
So, how do you become more resistant to cold temperatures? Surprise, surprise… you must get your ass outside, in the cold as much as possible.
Rule # 4. Strengthen your body and your mind
Another reason why I was hating winter so much and was enduring it rather than enjoying it, was because I was physically too weak.
I thought I was taking care of myself, but I can see now that I wasn’t eating well (even though I thought I did), wasn’t exercising at all (had no time and no energy left for that), and I wasn’t taking care of my mental health. This also (partly) explains why I was severely depressed, exhausted, and sick.
I was spending most, if not all, my energy on my job, my school, and my relationship.
But once I started prioritizing more my physical and mental health and behaving accordingly, that’s when things began to change. I also slowly became stronger and more resistant to all sorts of things, among which: freezing cold temperatures.
Seriously! Ever since I started running in the cold outside during winter, I’ve become almost immune to the cold. (BUT as soon as I stop doing it, I start feeling cold again).
What this means for you is that you could start exercising regularly, practicing awareness, spending more time in nature, prioritizing time with people you love, removing negative energies from your life as much as possible (and solving your problems), avoiding excess sugar and processed foods, etc.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. You could simply walk or bike to work, instead of taking your car or spending ½ an hour on a crowded bus; go for a walk during your lunch hour instead of checking your social media; get off the bus or metro a few stops before your usual stop, etc. An hour-walk to or from work in the mornings or evenings is doable.
Just don’t make a big deal out of it. And you can simply carry your work clothes in a back-pack and change at work, or bring 3 or 4 outfits on Mondays, and walk the other days.
Rule # 5. Stop hating winter: look for beauty in every climate, weather or situation
Nature is beautiful in all its aspects and complexities. We just need to pay a little more attention.
Right now, you are hating winter because you are focusing on all the things you don’t like about the cold. But just like everything in this world, there is both “good” and “bad” to it.
There was a time when I saw the end of fall as something seriously depressing. The trees were losing their leaves, everything seemed… naked, muddy, gloomy.
Like everything was dying.
But lately I have been taking the time to appreciate the seasons for what they are, and you know what? There is beauty in everything. The brownish colors of November are beautiful. And branches are just as magnificent with or without their leaves; they are just different.
Did you know trees form their buds in August? This means that if you look at a branch up close in winter, you can actually see the little buds, waiting for spring to start growing!
Rule # 6. Be willing to adapt to the weather
A lot of people hate winter so much, they spend most of their energy trying to pretend that it is not winter. They go out of their way to never have to feel or face the cold. It’s like winter denial: overheated house, overheated car, never setting foot outside unless absolutely necessary etc.
I am not sure this is an effective strategy, as I find that these people are usually the ones who appear to suffer (or complain) the most through the winter months.
Oh, and by the way, stop overheating your house. This is bad for you, your health, your wallet, and the environment. During the winter months, wear appropriate clothing both inside and outside your house. Again, it’s winter. Not summer.
I find that when I leave an overheated space and step outside, the difference in temperature between inside and outside is much more difficult to bear and the choc is often brutal. The ideal temperature should be somewhere between 19˚C and 23˚C. At first, it seems hard. But if you dress adequately, you will quickly adapt.
Rule # 7. Relax your shoulders and breathe
An another key element of mastering the cold and stop hating winters, is to pay attention to your own (body’s) reactions.
I am not a scientist or doctor. I’m just sharing what has worked for me.
I have noticed that when I’m cold, my back, shoulders, and neck become tense. It’s as if I “forget” to breathe, and my shoulders remain sort of stuck in a “raised” position; contracted.
This doesn’t only happen when we are cold by the way… It also happens when we are stressed, and many people spend their entire day like this without even noticing it.
But when we’re are cold, we do it even more and it makes you feel even colder. The key is to become aware of it, consciously relax our body, belly, and shoulders, and take deep breaths.
If I get out of bed in the morning and start shivering, I force myself to stop, stand straight, pull my shoulders back, feel my feet on the ground and the cold on my skin, relax, and breathe! It works, I promise.
To me, it’s the equivalent of “face your fear” or in this case, “face the cold”. When you cower in the face of adversity, it makes things worse. The same goes for the cold. Don’t run away from it! Embrace it head-on. Everything will be ok.
*Please note that there are no affiliate links on these posts. The products I refer to or recommend, are simply ones I truly adore and use!