Pulling a sledge through the snow in winter

If you Feel Sad in Winter

Many immigrants feel sad in winter in Canada. There’s very little sun in winter and it is cold outside. Even on sunny days, some immigrants don’t want to go out because of the cold.

There are several things that can make winter easier:

1. Learn how to dress for winter – dress in layers

The best way to stay warm is to dress in layers. When you feel cold, you are uncomfortable, and when you feel uncomfortable for a long time, you don’t feel happy. To feel happier, you need to know how to dress well. Learn more by clicking here: “How to dress for winter: layers

The most important layer is the closest to your body. It’s better to buy thermal underwear (top and bottom). It should fit really tightly (very close to your body, like hugging it, so that there’s no space between the fabric and your body).

The second layer should be warm – like a sweater that is made of natural wool. Or you could visit some sport stores – they sell clothing especially engineered for cold temperatures.

The third layer is a good – long (to the knee or almost to the knee) and thick winter jacket. When buying a winter jacket, ask one question: “What temperature is this jacket good for? I need something for minus 15 or minus 20.” Good winter jackets are expensive but you only buy one jacket and wear it for several years – they are a good investment in your health.


2. Take Vitamin D every day in winter

If you are an immigrant from a country where it is sunny almost every day and there is no winter like in Canada, your body is used to getting vitamin D (from the sun) every day. When the sun touches your face, hands, arms, vitamin D is produced in your body. 90% of vitamin D comes from the sun. Learn more about why Vitamin D is so important here.

Many immigrants develop serious health problems after several years in Canada because they don’t know about vitamin D. You need about one thousand milligrams a day. Vitamin D makes your immune system stronger, fights against cancer and helps maintain good mental health (make you feel happier).


3. Avoid cold and flu – don’t get sick

When you are sick, you feel sad. You can prevent cold and flu. There are easy steps you can take to prevent getting sick: eat garlic, take oregano oil and wash your hands! To learn more, click here: “Stay healthy during cold and flu season“.

Washing your hands is very important because 80% of all viruses are spread this way: first you touch something in a public place (for example on the bus) and then you touch your mouth or eyes. This is how a virus gets inside your body. Wash your hands with regular soap (not antibacterial!). Rub your hands for 15 seconds and rinse well.

Washing hands protects you better than 10 flu shots. Your doctor will most likely push you to get a flu shot – this is your choice, so you can choose to say “No, thank you.” Many people who get flu shot still get sick. That’s because flu shot only protects you from one kind of viruses called ‘influenza’. Not all flu are influenza.

Hand sanitizers (gel, 70% alcohol) should only be used when water and soap are not available. Hand sanitizers kill the good and the bad bacteria on your hands. Antibacterial soaps also kill the good and the bad bacteria. You need the good bacteria on your hands – it is part of your immune system. So, use regular soap.


4. Move your body  – go for a walk, to a gym or a swimming pool

Most immigrants are afraid to go out in the cold for a walk and so they stay home. The problem with staying home: your blood doesn’t circulate well and your brain is not getting enough oxygen.

To help your blood circulate, you need to exercise. A swimming pool, a gym or a community centre classes (or even exercise at home) are all good choices. When you sit for a long time and your blood doesn’t circulate, you will feel very sad. Exercise increases serotonin levels in your brain (serotonin makes you feel happy).

On any day that is not too cold, try to go outside  – even for 10-15 minutes! You need fresh air – your brain needs oxygen. Lack of oxygen to the brain gives you headaches. It also affects your memory and mood (you feel unhappy).

Many immigrants put heaters in their homes to feel warmer. Central heating and added oil heaters dry out the air in your room (if you or your children get nose bleeds, get rid of the oil heater). You might need a humidifier too. Make sure you open the window to let the fresh air in.


5. Be careful not to eat too many sweets

How sugar works in your body: first, you feel very happy and then you feel very sad.

When sugar enters your blood, you get ‘sugar rush’ or ‘sugar high’. It feels so good. But your body produces insulin – a hormone that controls how much sugar is in your blood. Insulin quickly removes the sugar from your blood (it is dangerous to have high blood sugar)  and it is changed into fat.

Then suddenly you feel sad again. If you eat more sugar, the story will repeat again. So, you go up and down, up and down  – happy and sad, happy and sad. If you push and abuse your body like this for a long time, your body will soon not be able to produce insulin and you will get diabetes.