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Winter Survival Guide

Most of the year in Prince George, for better or for worse, the weather is characterized by snow and subarctic windchills. Some of us could not imagine what life would be like without the winter. Whether this is your first winter in the Great White North or you’re a resident wintertime expert, we could all use some tips to help improve our experience during the colder period of the year. I moved to Houston (BC, not Texas; it’s approximately 250 km west of PG) in 2009, so I hope my decade-worth of knowledge will help you learn to love/tolerate winter in Prince George. 

Tip #1: Cover-up. 

First and foremost, it is integral that you invest in a proper winter coat. It should zip up, have a waterproof exterior, and perhaps have wool or fleece lining. I know, it sounds expensive, but do not be afraid to shop second hand; lots of people give away brand new or very lightly used winter gear. Not only is shopping the thrift stores economically beneficial, but thrifting also helps to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win. 

Underneath your winter coat, it is helpful to wear layers of clothes. Put on a tee-shirt, then a sweater or cardigan, and any additional layers to make you feel the most cozy. You can always take off a layer, but sweaters don’t magically appear if you do end up chilly. 

Tip #2: Get a Kettle 

What is it about the cold weather that makes me crave hot chocolate? Classical conditioning? I’m sure Pavlov would have something to say about this. 

Regardless, I would be SOL without my kettle. I highly recommend investing in a working kettle, whether it be electric or stovetop. The main point is that it will make your water hot, which you can make into delicious hot chocolate (or tea, or coffee, or hot cider, or coffee with Irish cream, it’s up to you). 

Tip #3: Moisturize

I am not a year-round resident of Prince George; every time I come back for the school semester, the dryness of the air shocks my system. I am reminded every September, “Oh right, I have a dermatological condition that creates extreme dry skin. Great.” Sorry, TMI? 

Anyway, that was all to say that you should be moisturizing and taking care of your skin. It is your body’s largest organ, after all! Each time you get out of the shower (hopefully, this is a regular occurrence for you), be sure to restore your skin’s natural lipid barrier with moisturizing cream and/or massage oil. 

Tip #4: Expect More Snow 

If you think it has stopped snowing, no it hasn’t. 

When the weather app says to expect an inch of snow, expect a foot. I cannot stress this enough. It might seem like you are gaslighting yourself, but it is for a good reason, I promise. You will be more prepared for the weather (you can pack extra layers, gloves, a scarf, etc) and considerably less disappointed when there is inevitable more snow than meteorologists estimated. 

Tip #5: Slow-cookers 

Slow-cookers are a lifesaver during the winter months. On your days off, cook up a nice big batch of soup, chilli, or curry. Portion it out into microwave-safe containers. Then, throughout the week, you will have a ready-made bowl of soothing, warm food. Throw in some seasonal produce if you’re feeling fancy, like locally-grown potatoes and garlic from the PG PIRG garden. 

Cooking for yourself can be very daunting at first. It helps to make large batches of food you know you like. For me, I can never have enough channa masala and naan. Eventually, ordering from the local restaurants night after night starts to look slightly suspicious, so it’s worth it to invest in your culinary skills and instruments. 

Tip #6: Wiggle your Windows 

Ok, this might be a niche requirement. Sometimes you need a blast of fresh air inside, but it’s November 23rd, it’s -17°C, and actually, your window is frozen shut. This experience is especially infuriating when you prefer a cold bedroom for sleep. 

To prevent the dreaded (for me) frozen-shut window catastrophe, give your window a wiggle from time to time. Simply opening and promptly closing your windows once every day will ensure you never have to sleep in a moderately heated bedroom; gross. 

Tip #7: Get a Weighted Blanket

You have probably seen all the popular media articles about the wonderous anti-anxiety effects associated with weighted blankets. Indeed, it makes me feel good. On top of helping me achieve a relatively anxiety-less night sleep, the weighted blanket I have has a removable fleece cover. Kind of like a duvet cover, but duvet’s much heavier and less poultry-stuffed cousin. The blanket cover is helpful because I don’t know if the actual weighted blanket would survive the washing machine (or vice-versa). 

Tip #8: Switch to Warm Beverages 

After summer iced coffees and $1 fountain drinks, it can be hard to adjust to hot beverages again. I find myself craving an iced Chai from Degrees, but actually drinking one in the winter would likely send my body into hypothermic shock. Opting for a warm beverage is probably the best decision for your daily coffee break(s). Choose something seasonal, like a pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha. It’s okay to be basic during the winter. 

Tip #9: When in Doubt, Shower it Out

Oftentimes, the only thing that will ease the aching cold from nesting in your bones is to cleanse yourself with water. Not holy, but preferably warm or hot water to raise your body temperature. You could even have a bath if you want; I don’t control your life. Plus, bath bombs are exceptionally satisfying during the winter. Try hues of green and blue, and use floral or forest scents, to somewhat emulate the feeling of summer and nature being alive. 

Tip #10: Try To Enjoy It

When I say “It,” I do not mean the Steven King’s cult classic; however, spooky movies can help you feel more lively during the winter (or maybe, more deadly). 

My tenth tip involves attempting to enjoy yourself during the frigid winter conditions. Try a new outdoor recreation activity, like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating. If you haven’t before, make a snowman. Better yet, build an armoured snow-fortress and defend your land with projectiles made of snow (a snowball fight). Maybe, you don’t want to go outside at all – That’s okay! No one is forcing you to enjoy the snow. I much prefer curling up under my weighted blanket with a warm beverage and mindlessly binge-watching a terrible television series. It’s what we deserve for enduring the harsh Northern winter. 

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