Winter Safety and Activities Workshop

On Tuesday November 21, the Ryerson Team ran their second workshop for parents, caregivers and children.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

 Photo by petrunjela/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by petrunjela/iStock / Getty Images

One of the topics concerned Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression linked to changes in seasons, notably in late fall-winter. A less well-known type affects some in the late spring and summer.


  • Depression, most of the day, every day

  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

  • Low or no energy

  • Sleeping issues

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Sluggish and/or agitated more than usual

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt

  • Frequent thoughts of death or harm


  • Decrease in sunlight messes with body’s internal clock and levels of serotonin and melatonin which regulate mood and sleep patterns.

 Photo by RapidEye/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by RapidEye/iStock / Getty Images

Women are more often affected than men as are younger people. Those suffering from bipolar disorder may suffer more severe symptoms. The further away you are from the equator, the higher the likelihood of being affected because of less sunlight. At it’s worst, SAD can cause social withdrawal, substance, anxiety or eating disorders and suicidal thoughts or behavior. Get help from your doctor or local mental health clinic, there are many treatments that can help you.


  • Treatments depend on the severity of SAD and whether there are other complications such as depression or bipolar disorder

  • Light therapy or antidepressants are commonly used


  • Get outside, even on cloudy days

  • If you can afford to do so, buy or rent and start using a light therapy box before symptoms start back in early fall

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, five times per week

  • Social support is important. Stay involved with friends and activities


As the days get colder and shorter, it can make it harder and harder to stay active and perform self-care activities. Although it can be hard, being active is important during all seasons of the year. Regular exercise can improve well being and assist you in maintaining a healthy lifestyle (Abeln et al., 2015). Doing aerobic exercises, such as walking, running, cycling, or swimming has been shown to increase positive mood and enhance a sense of well-being (Cramp & Bray, 2011)

Finding ways to be active indoors can be easy with a little creativity. These activities can be incorporated throughout your day to decrease feelings of stress or anxiety when trying to find time in your schedule. Doing activities during commercial breaks such as push-ups or sit-ups, workouts can be found online and be done in less than 20 minutes, and having dance parties can all be incorporated into your day to help increase your activity levels and enhance your sense of wellbeing.

You don’t need to be stuck indoors, being active outdoors, even when it is cold can be fun, if you dress and prepare accordingly! Looking at the weather, bringing snacks, and wearing clothing that is suited for the activities that you will be doing can help prevent cold injuries and enhance your time outdoors (Flatt, 2010).

Dressing for the Weather

Children cannot tell you that their cheeks are cold or in pain so it is important to check on them regularly when they are outside (Brown, Spiegel, & Boyle, 1983).

Tips for dressing for the weather:

 Photo by Jeka33/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Jeka33/iStock / Getty Images

  • Wearing multiple loose layers as opposed to one heavy layer  

  • Wearing moisture wicking fabrics close to your skin such as wool and polyesters

  • Layering wool or a fleece on top of the moisture wicking layer

  • Water and windproof outer layer is worn on top

  • Wearing mittens instead of gloves

  • Wearing balaclavas, a face mask that covers your whole face with mouth and eye holes. Some might know this as a “ski mask”. These helps protect the cheeks from the wind and cold since it is an area that often develops frostbite

  • Having properly fitting shoes

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Signs of frostbite are numbness and pain, if you start feeling these signs move into a warm area, add more layers, and move around to help prevent frostbite. If frostbite has happened, you might see white areas surrounded by red skin, and the skin will not be easily moved. If this has happened, you should seek medical assistance in rewarming the areas.  

Hypothermia, the second type of cold injury, occurs when body temperatures are below 36o C (Fudge, 2016). Signs of hypothermia are shivering, social withdrawal, pupil dilation (the black part of the eyes getting larger); when it is serious the ability to shiver is lost and unconsciousness can occur (Fudge, 2016). If hypothermia has occurred, and it is mild, meaning that they are still able to shiver and respond rewarm as soon as possible by changing wet clothes, providing more layers, and bringing into a warm space and provide warm drinks or soups. If it is more severe, where they are unable to shiver, are losing consciousness, or have lost consciousness seek immediate medical care.

Activities to do this Winter:

Distillery Christmas Market

o   You don’t have to celebrate Christmas to enjoy this cool market. It is a free market that offers speciality shops and foods along with a large Christmas tree and interesting light fixtures.

o   Located in the Distillery District, it is free during the weekdays and Fridays before 5:00pm. It is running from November 16th- December 23rd

Skating at Nathan Phillip or Ryerson University

o   Nathan Phillip Square offers free skating if you bring your own skates or a skating rental service

o   Nathan Phillip Squares skating rink is open on November 25th

 Photo by vkovalcik/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by vkovalcik/iStock / Getty Images

o   Skate rentals: children $5, adults $10

o   When the weather gets colder Ryerson offers a smaller and usually less busy skating rink that is free, but you’ll need to bring your own skates

BSM Warm the Sole Sock Drive

o   The Bata Shoe Museum is providing free admission with the donation of a pair of new unworn socks to be distributed to those in need. If you donate on Saturday or Sunday from November 1st- November 30th you get free admission. There are also crafts for kids!

Experiment in the snow

o   Put some food colouring in squeeze bottles with water and paint the snow

Nutrition tips to keeps your toddler fit during the winter time

1.     Make sure you provide and get enough fruit and vegetable

These are loaded with beneficial vitamins, minerals, water and fiber, magnesium, some are sources of Iron!

During the winter the problems is that there is limited fruits and vegetables available, and they are often pricier. Certain ones are however in season : Oranges, grapefruit, clementine, kiwi, squash, kale (Meltzer, 2007). These are rich in vitamin A, C and K (Meltzer, 2007).

Vitamin C is of particular interest because it is not store in large amount in the body (Dietitians of Canada, 2017a). Daily vitamin C from whole food sources is found to reduce the duration of illness such as the common cold. Full benefits can be received by providing toddler one serving (1 cup) of citrus fruit and berries. Since it is more difficult to find fresh berries during the winter time, alternatives include frozen mixed berries which can be added to smoothies (Biernes, 2016).

Foods: peppers, broccoli, cabbage,  Brussel sprouts, snow peas, cauliflower, kale, potato with skin, sweet potato

2.     Hydration

Everyone’s body depends on water to survive—for our cells, tissues, organs to work, body temperature control, etc.

 Photo by orinoco-art/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by orinoco-art/iStock / Getty Images

Toddlers need 1300 mL of fluid ideally water on daily basis.

In colder seasons, air becomes drier and kids lose more moisture through through their breath. During this colder time of the year, it can be harder to drink the recommended amount of fluid, so try warmer drinks and soups (Biernes, 2016).

3.     Limited sunlight, so need to make sure getting Vitamin D

The best sources of vitamin D is exposure to the sun as it produces a chemical reaction in the skin allowing the body to synthezise vitamin D. During cooler and winter months, sun’s rays are not strong enough to this reaction to occur. Having sufficient Vitamin D is necesssary for  helping our bodies use nutrient such as Calcium among others for the purpose to strengthen bones and teeth, as well as helps our bodies maintain a healthy immune system (Dietitians of Canada).

Consumption of foods high in vitamin D are thus recommended, and perhaps look into supplementation in some cases. Vitamin D is not found naturally in many commonly consumed foods. In Canada, some foods such as milk, soy or rice beverages and margarine have vitamin D added to them (Dietitians of Canada, 2017b). Other good food sources of vitamin D include certain kinds of fish, egg yolks and milk (Dietitians of Canada, 2017b).



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Meltzer, R. (Feb. 2007) "'My favorite fruits and veggies are out of season. Can you suggest good choices for the winter?''." Prevention. Academic OneFile, Accessed 17 Nov. 2017, p23.

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