Real Tips, Fake Day

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By Mary Clements

This past Monday is commonly known as Blue Monday.  It is a day when apparently the Sunday blues linger for far too long and the reality of coming back to work and school after the holidays culminates in the most depressing day of the year.

While this idea was a marketing tactic made to sell more vacations in January, I still wanted to hear about how our awesome book writer Juana, who lived in Colombia until she 22 years old, related with the idea of “Blue Monday” since moving to Canada. Here’s what she said:

The gift of winter: Juana’s tips for facing the blues

For someone like me, who’s originally from the tropics, winter was something I could only experience through watching movies and TV shows. In fact, to me, winter always had a whimsical, magical aspect which is why when I moved to Canada I could not understand why so many people would feel so blue when it arrived.

I remember my first snow: it was 2017 and I was living in Montreal. It started late at night and my fellow exchange students and I ran out of our flat at 1am to catch the first snowflakes of the season. I had never felt or seen anything so beautiful and delicate. The next day I was basically skipping happily on my way to Uni, unable to believe the freshness that came with the cold wind and air and the brightness that was reflected on the snow. I especially remember coming into my Francophone Literature classroom and noticing how everyone shot me a puzzled look.

“Is this your first snow?” One classmate asked.

“YES!” I answered eagerly. Everyone nodded slightly and looked at me with a slight pity. “Don’t you guys love winter?” I asked. The answer was a unanimous no.
Fast forward to 2022, I had become yet another person who didn’t like winter. I felt blue when it came and even frustrated at time. However, when I asked my students what their favourite season was, most had winter within their top two! This reminded me of the magic of winter.

So today I wanted to share some of the tips that my students (and others) have taught me, in order to enjoy the cold and snowy months still ahead of us:

Play outside ! Jouez dehors !

When I asked my students why they liked winter so much, most students would say that they love to play outside in the snow. Whether it is making a snowman, having a snowball fight or going skiing. There are many ways in which we can play. Sledding, (or in french faire de la luge) is one of our students’ all time favorites ! If, like me, you have never been sledding or haven’t done so in a while, I challenge us both to try it this season!

A breath of calm

Many nations from this territory, such as the Anishinabe, teach us that winter is a time for calm and reflection. While western culture may ask us to just “gogogo” and set up goals and resolutions, nature takes its sweet time to rest, sleep and prepare for the new cycle in spring. So whenever we are feeling a bit too burnt out, a bit stressed, or maybe even blue, going outside, taking a walk, having the cold punk blood into our hearts and cheeks and bones, and being still and quiet with nature will help us calm our thoughts, feelings and brains. Even my cat does this daily! 

Create your cozy

Just as kids bundle up in snowpants, boots, scarves, tuques, jackets and mittens in order to stay warm and forget the cold while playing outside, we can do ourselves a big favor bundling up and preparing to enjoy our time indoors. Enjoy warm lights at home, soft music, a book and a cup of hot chocolate ! Take advantage of the long nights to set up movie night or board games with your family! Remember this is also a time to create warmth from within.