When it’s –20°C and blowing snow outdoors, winter in Canada can feel rather grim. Combine that with fewer daylight hours and it’s no surprise that many Canadians struggle with the winter blues. Research by Accountemps, a staffing firm, suggests that 56% of Canadian professionals feel their mood is negatively impacted by winter weather.

In some cases, feeling down during the winter may be driven by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression. This a more serious condition that may require care from a doctor. For others, however, making it through the long slog of January and beyond can be made easier by giving yourself a sense of purpose on which to focus your energy – for example, a project, an activity or a goal.

Here are four ways to make winter more enjoyable and productive on your terms.

Tackle a mentally stimulating challenge

If you spend every night and weekend on the couch with Netflix, winter can seem to drag on forever. While there’s much to be said for the occasional cozy TV binge night, the winter months will fly by more quickly if you sink your teeth into a meaningful project.

What better time than winter to take a professional development course, explore your artistic interests or dive into a home improvement project? What you choose to do is less important than finding something that you find both mentally stimulating and personally rewarding.

Stay energized with physical activity

Hibernation works well for bears, but not so much for humans. Although there’s no guaranteed silver bullet for preventing or combatting depression, there is extensive research evidence suggesting that physical activity can help a great deal.

Rather than making this another lazy winter, find yourself an indoor or outdoor activity that energizes you. Taking part in a team sport is a good way to stay active during the winter as it adds an element of peer pressure – you’re less likely to stay home if your teammates are counting on you to show up. If hockey or squash isn’t up your alley, even just regular outdoor walks can help you avoid the winter doldrums.

Maintain an active social life

We rely on friends and family for social support, and our need for this support doesn’t disappear when the snow starts falling. It may take a bit of extra effort to leave home on a cold day, but the benefits of remaining socially active will ultimately make winter more bearable.

Dinner parties, movie nights, weekend ski trips and even group getaways to a sunny destination are all great ways to enjoy the company of others. With such get-togethers to look forward to, you’ll find yourself cruising through the chilly months with laughter and camaraderie.

Improve your financial situation

This is a popular time for dreaming big, setting goals and making plans for the year ahead. It’s also an excellent opportunity to get your finances in order to ensure you’re on track for everything you hope to accomplish this year. (And if the prospect of financial planning doesn’t excite you, better to focus on it during the winter than let it cut into your cottage time during the summer!)

If you’re planning a long trip, major purchase or new baby this year, it’s especially important to assess and update your financial plan now. Why? So that you aren’t taken by surprise when there are big bills to be paid. Now is also the perfect time to implement saving, investment and insurance strategies aligned with your goals so that you’ll have more to celebrate financially by the end of this year.

Make the most of your winter

One of the best ways to combat the winter blues is to channel your energy into meaningful activities. By starting an interesting project, staying active and regularly meeting up with friends, you can boost your mental well-being and make the most of whatever Canada throws at you this winter.

While we can’t take care of the snow shoveling for you, the Rubach Wealth team can help you align your financial plans with your aspirations for the year ahead and beyond. To discuss how we can work with you, contact us at (647) 349-7070.