Beat the Winter Blues

This winter has been worse than most with extremely cold temperatures. Will this winter ever end? Beat the blues by trying these tips.

-          If something is bothering you, don’t ignore it or dwell on it. Find someone to talk to. Get it off your mind. Let it go.

-          Find & focus on the positive. For example, spring officially begins on March 21 (only weeks away). Seasons change & winter will not last forever.

-          Surround yourself with people who have positive energy (it is contagious).

-          During cold winter months, we tend to socialize less. Find reasons to get out of the house (volunteer & get involved with your community, sign-up for a class, get out with friends, plan an out-of-town trip or vacation).

-          Plan to do something fun, that will make you smile or laugh. Watch a funny movie.

-          Make it a daily goal to do something nice for someone (a random act of kindness). Pay it forward. It costs nothing to make someone laugh or put a big smile on someone’s face. This will make you feel good.

-          Get a good night’s sleep. When you can, sleep-in or have a nap if you feel tired.

-          Exercise to feel better (raising the brain’s levels of serotonin and endorphins). Get moving. Stress will be reduced. Your outlook will be improved.

-          Set achievable short-term goals. Work hard to accomplish them. Be proud of your efforts & celebrate your successes.

-          Treat yourself. Find time for you & ways to relax. Enjoy a spa treatment, a bath or a good book.

-          Let the sunshine in. Open your windows. On warmer days, go for a walk, run, hike or bike ride. The fresh air & natural vitamin D from the sun will do you some good. If you can not get outside, take vitamin D supplements.

-          Have a good attitude (it is a little thing that will make a big difference to you & to those around you).  

I hope that these simple tips/ideas help to improve your frame of mind. Remember, nothing stays the same. Make the most of each day, take charge & work towards a positive future.

How to Stay Safe in the Cold Weather

We are all tired of old man winter. Unfortunately, he isn’t done with us yet. We are still at risk for cold weather emergencies such as frost nip, frost bite & hypothermia. The following information may help to keep you safe in the cold weather.

-          Check thetemperature before venturing outdoors. Factor in the wind chill. If weather & temperatures are extreme, postpone travel & outdoor activities.

-         If you work outdoors or enjoy outdoor recreation, it will be worth your while to invest in good quality outdoor gear/clothing. In the cold weather, it is best to wear layers of clothing:

  • Start with a thin layer of clothes.  Silk, polyester & nylon fabrics are best next to your skin as they wick moisture away from the skin & keep you warmer. AVOID COTTON. Cotton underwear, long johns & clothes keep moisture, like sweat, next to your skin. If your skin is wet, you are at risk for a cold weather emergency.
  • Next add a layer of clothes made of tightly woven fibres, such as wool or synthetics/fleeces (which trap air against your body).
  • Your outside layer should be wind & water proof or resistant.

-          If you have been sweating or your clothes get wet, change into dry clothes immediately.

-          Don’t wear socks made of cotton. Socks made of wool or synthetic fibres are best for warmth. Don’t layer socks.  If they are tight on your feet, circulation may be poor & frost bite may occur.

-          Cover your head & trunk/body as you lose most of your heat from these areas.

-          Cover vulnerable areas such as ears, nose & fingers. Don’t wear gloves that are tight. Mittens keep you warmer than gloves.

-          Wear appropriate foot wear/boots & water proof them.

-          Take frequent breaks from the cold. As soon as you start shivering, or if your fingers start tingling & go numb, get out of the cold & warm up.

-          Stay hydrated. Drink warm fluids or water. Avoid caffeine & alcohol as they cause dehydration. When dehydrated, your body can not control its temperature.

-          When venturing into the wilderness to winter camp, hike, ski or skidoo; let someone know where you are going & when you plan to return. Take a cell phone, small survival/first aid kit & matches/lighter with you.

-          Keep a pair of gloves, a hat & warm boots in your vehicle in case of a breakdown or accident.

-          Pack a warm blanket, sleeping bag or ski suit in your vehicle if planning a road trip.

It is no fun being cold. In fact it can be fatal. Don’t take chances, be prepared & dress for the weather.

While injury prevention is best, it is also important to learn first aid for cold weather emergencies. Register for one of our first aid classes:

How to Shovel Snow without Hurting Yourself

It is a winter wonderland out there. Actually it is a big icy snowy mess. As the City works at clearing our roads, you & I work at clearing our sidewalks & driveways. It is a lot of work & good exercise. However, if we are not careful, shovelling snow can lead to injuries & fatalities.

We are at risk of injuries because of the heavy workload (that we are not used to doing) & because of the cold (poor blood circulation contributes to frost bite, hypothermia & heart attacks). Injuries also result because of falls, slipping on the ice/snow. Here are 10 tips to prevent snow shovelling injuries.

Snow Shovelling Injury Prevention Tips

1)       Shovelling can be a strenuous physical activity. Do a few warm-up exercises. Move muscles through their full range of motion. Keep motions slow & controlled. Try push & pull arm motions, circle your shoulders in both directions, trunk rotations/twists & a few knee bends/squats (for example). A light cardio warm-up will also help (dance to a good song on the radio).

2)       Dress for the weather. Layer clothing with nylon or silk fibres closest to the skin. Avoid cotton. Cotton will absorb your sweat & keep it next to your skin (making you cold). Wear a hat & good gloves. Warm boots with good tread/grip are also a must. 

3)       Shovel often. Get it done before it piles up. Don’t wait until it gets wet & heavy. It takes more effort to move the heavy stuff (put less on the shovel).

4)       Use a shovel with a plastic blade (lighter in weight). The blade doesn’t have to be big. It is best to push/lift smaller amounts of snow. Smaller scoops/lighter loads will be easier on your back.

5)       Use a shovel designed for pushing snow. Pushing snow, instead of lifting it, is easier on the back.

6)       Ergonomic curved handles, can also help to reduce stress on your back. The handle should be close to your body (avoid out stretched arms). Keep the handle at waist height as you push the snow. When lifting snow, keep your hands farther apart on the handle (for leverage). 

7)       Keep your body in good alignment/posture while shovelling. Have a wider based of support with your legs. Bend at your knees & hips, tighten your stomach muscles & lift with your legs. Never lift while twisting & turning. Make sure that your toes are pointing in the direction that you are pushing/throwing (always throw snow in front of you).

8)       Take your time. Pace yourself (a slow but sure approach). Don’t overexert. Take breaks. Stay hydrated (avoid caffeine). Warm your ears, nose, fingers or toes if they get cold.

9)       Shovelling is good exercise. If you have a neighbour that can’t shovel snow due to an injury or medical condition, offer to help. Be a snow angel.

10)   If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, check with your doctor (snow shovelling may not be recommended). We all need help sometimes. Remember, you can always hire someone to help you. Ask a neighbour’s kid, post a sign at the local convenience store or community centre or hire a snow removal service.

A back ache can be very painful & can affect your quality of life. We need strong backs for work & every day activities. Rehabilitation can be a long & costly process. Prevent injuries & cold weather emergencies in the first place. Take care when shovelling snow & stay well!