Indoor activities to help get you through the fall and winter

by Christina Charles

The rest of 2020 will see us moving back indoors due to Covid-19 so it's important to start planning early for a gentle, gratifying winter season.

  • Think like a northerner. Remember that we can learn from the communities above the arctic circle who live happily in the cold and the dark. It's a matter of mindset. Take note of yours and when projecting ahead, redirect negative adjectives (cold, lonely, dark) to positive adjectives (polar, cozy, twilit).
  • Adjust your Christmas expectations. For those of us who celebrate Christmas, it's typically the biggest holiday of the year in so many ways. Now is a good time to re-evaluate only the aspects of the holiday season that mean the absolute most to you. Filtering out the rest will free you from feeling let down by everything you "missed". For me, that's Christmas movies/music and donating to Toy Mountain.
  • Revise your winter bubble. Plan now for the best *closed bubble* of one or two close friends whose level of hibernation matches yours. If you live alone, avoid crossing bubbles and bouncing around the city by keeping that key person around more often for longer chunks of time.
  • Check your winter gear early. Now is the time to make sure you and your kids have what's needed to get outside when you need a change. Sturdy winter boots, extra gloves and hats, sharpened skates, thermal mugs, a fabric mask with good coverage (or perhaps a balaclava). Maybe a fancy camera and some birdseed. Whatever interests you.
  • Invest in a speaker or two. A good speaker will fill the room with ambient music or uplift the experience of watching a movie. A good speaker doesn't have to be expensive but if you're still listening to music through your laptop, this is your permission to upgrade.
  • Find a new content creator to follow. Be it on Youtube, a podcast, or an old-fashioned blog, diving into a new topic of interest keeps your mind engaged. I would recommend topics like architecture or interior design, off-grid living or alternative lifestyles, money management or thrifting/restoration . . .  The purpose is on getting swept up in it an expert's passion, not on learning per se.

  • Bookmark some hearty winter recipes to try in your free time. Make croissants from scratch or try out a new variation on a familiar curry. Make sure your kitchen is equipped with whatever you need to make the most of the slow cooking (e.g. roasting pans for meat, immersion blender for soups, mason jars for preserves).
  • Reconnect with a musical instrument. Find and favourite playlists that inspire whatever music you're trying to make. If you don't play an instrument, set aside time to watch live music performances and you'll appreciate your favourite artists' work that much more.
  • Book an appointment to get your flu shot. I found the Rexall site to be quite simple:
  • String some fairy lights. Yes — they're traditional Christmas decorations but more importantly, strung inside, they can spark joy and creativity during those long evening hours.
  • Enjoy a homemade cocktail as a labour of love. Find inspiration for a new seasonal cocktail and keep the ingredients on hand (cream liqueur? cinnamon sticks?) rather than always reaching for beer or wine. Taking that extra time means that you'll be more conscious of your alcohol intake.
  • Join a fantasy sports league. If you enjoy sports, this is a great incentive to follow them more closely. It worked for me and the English Premier League! If all goes well, soccer will be on until spring and hopefully the NHL and NBA will be back in January.

  • Choose a pen pal. Make sure to buy stationery and stamps in advance, then take pleasure in old-school written correspondence.
  • Set a positive association with winter and a new scent. Whether it's a candle, perfume, or hand soap, maybe change it up with something woodsy or sweet depending on your preferences.

Christina Charles is a PhD student at the University of Ottawa