8 ways to beat the winter blues in Downtown Fort Wayne

As we embark upon another Midwest winter amidst the impacts of COVID-19 lingering in the chilly air, we at Input Fort Wayne took it upon ourselves to compile a list of fun, centrally located places to find a little bit of solace in otherwise complicated times.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that during the pandemic, four out of 10 adults say they have experienced anxiety and depression symptoms. That number has quadrupled in comparison to pre-pandemic surveys. 

Here are eight small, but mighty ways to care for your mental and emotional health in Downtown Fort Wayne.

Beautiful foliage in Promenade Park.

 
  1. Take a mental health walk at Promenade Park, and get some exercise.
202 W. Superior St.

Promenade Park is located at 202 W. Superior St.

During the pandemic, people across the U.S. are walking more often, either for the physical health benefits, the mental health benefits, or both! In Fort Wayne, there are many neighborhoods and more than 100 miles of trails where you can enjoy a winter walk or bike ride. But one of the best, centrally located spots is Promenade Park Downtown along the St. Marys River.

Beautiful foliage in Promenade Park.

Opened in August 2019 as the first phase of Fort Wayne's riverfront development project, Promenade was designed with accessibility in mind for a diverse range of mobility levels. It has gradually sloped walking paths that can accommodate scooters, walkers, and wheelchairs, as well as a playground and multiple family restrooms. As an added bonus, there are waterside bench swings and games at the park, like cornhole and table tennis, that you can enjoy while you're there. Bundle up, and grab a snack, like a bowl of Trubble Café’s Loaded Chili, to stay warm!
 
  1. Treat yourself to something sweet from Kilwin’s or DeBrand Fine Chocolates.
626 S. Harrison St. & 878 S. Harrison St.

DeBrand Fine Chocolates offers a wide assortment of sweet treats.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has been known to promote the release of dopamine, which gives people feelings of pleasure and motivation. The smells wafting through the ever-swinging doors of Kilwin's new location in Downtown Fort Wayne ought to be enough to put a smile on your face! 

In addition to chocolates and fudge, Kilwin’s also serves an assortment of caramels, ice cream, and frozen drinks. The chocolate shop features an open kitchen concept, allowing customers to see the magic behind their delicious treats. 

Kilwins Chocolates is the ground floor of The Bradley hotel in Downtown Fort Wayne.

Kilwin’s candies are sold by the pound, but you can also purchase individual pieces to mix and match. So if you're having a rough day, remember that Mary Poppins said it best: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down in the most delightful way.” 

If you're in the mood for a double dose of chocolate, hit up the local DeBrand Fine Chocolates location Downtown, too. We recommend a cup of their delicious hot chocolate (original, dark, or mint), or you can get their luscious milk or dark chocolate discs to melt into hot chocolate of your own at home! Each box comes with a booklet filled with simple recipe ideas you can make with them.
 
  1. Take a tech (and WFH) detox at the Allen County Public Library (ACPL).
900 Library Plz.

The Allen County Public Library offers physical and digital resources on mental health and wellbeing.

Take some time to unplug from your digital devices and your home environment. 

Now that more of us are spending long hours on our computers and at our home offices, public spaces like libraries are the perfect place to escape the house for some good, old-fashioned peace and quiet. BYOB (bring your own book) or check one out, and find yourself a cozy nook to indulge in some tech-free entertainment at the ACPL's Main Branch Downtown. If you're working from home and need a place to escape the monotony, the library has soundproof rooms you can sign up to use for free, too.

The Allen County Public Library offers physical and digital resources on mental health and wellbeing.

If you're specifically interested in mental health resources, the Main branch has a broad range of print and digital media on many matters of self-care located in both Reader’s Services on the first floor and Young Adults on the second floor. The Main branch also hosts many low-cost events throughout the year for people of all ages, including board game nights, free movies in the onsite theater, and rotating art exhibits in the Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery. Visit their website to view free and enriching events this winter.
 
  1. Indulge in some cozy retail therapy at the Urban Hippie or David Talbott Collection next door.
534 W. Berry St. & 532 W. Berry St.

The Urban Hippie and David Talbott Collection are located next door to each other on Berry Street.

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you look good, you feel good.” The Urban Hippie shop in Downtown Fort Wayne takes this concept to the next level with all the cozy cabin vibes you need to lift your spirits this winter. Step into this trendy boutique, and you'll be immediately greeted by its sweet, soothing signature scent.

The Urban Hippie is a downtown boutique at 534 W. Berry St.

The Urban Hippie offers a comfy and affordable selection of clothing, knitwear, and earthy jewelry. In colder months, their sweaters, like the “Bundle Up” cream sherpa hoodie, are the perfect solution to Indiana's harsh weather and a more casual work-from-home lifestyle. Plus, when you shop at the Urban Hippie for yourself or a loved one, they donate monthly to both local and international animal groups making the world a better place.

David Talbott Collection is located at 532 West Berry St.

If you prefer more masculine styles, head over to David Talbott Collection next door, where you'll find an incredible selection of men's designer apparel and accessories at affordable prices, including some suuuuper soft (and unisex) 100 percent cashmere scarves made in Scotland, as well as a must-browse collection of vintage suits.
 
  1. Escape to a tropical paradise at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
1100 S. Calhoun St.

The Botanical Conservatory has three indoor gardens, which cover over 25,000 square feet and showcase 1,200 plants (over 500 species) and 72 different types of cacti.

While the weather outside is frightful, a hike through the indoor Botanical Conservatory can be quite delightful on many levels. Visiting the warm gardens gives you the experience of a warmer climate without the added headaches of pandemic traveling. Plus, studies show that interacting with indoor plants can actually reduce physiological and psychological stress, enhance your cognitive skills, and facilitate healing.



The Conservatory includes three indoor gardens: 1) the Showcase Garden that rotates seasonally, 2) the Desert Garden with a variety of cacti, and 3) the Tropical Garden, featuring a waterfall and goldfish pond. It also hosts many events and classes you can attend year-round for a pop of green in your winter blues.
 
  1. Stretch away your stressors at Baptiste Power Yoga.
1301 Lafayette St.

Co-Owner Sarah Evans leads a class at Baptiste Power Yoga Fort Wayne.

Relax your shoulders. Unclench your jaw. And take a deep breath. 

We don’t always realize how we hold stress in our bodies, and how it impacts us physically. After the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the U.S. are holding on to a lot of tension, and conditions, like Bruxism, or teeth grinding, are increasing as common side effects.

Yoga can be a relaxing, low impact, and a strength-building way to set aside the weight we’ve been carrying around, and Baptiste Power Yoga in Downtown Fort Wayne is one place you can do it.

The lobby of Fusion Yoga at 6382 W. Jefferson Blvd.

The Baptiste Methodology is rooted in five classical pillars: Drishti (gaze), Ujjayi (breath), Bandhas (foundation), Tapas (heat), and Vinyasa (flow). With heat being a primary tenant of the practice, each class is taught in a studio that has been set to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which is sure to warm you up this winter. Baptiste Power Yoga offers classes for all ages and various pricing tiers for many budgets, including student discounts, military discounts, and virtual memberships.

Check out their website for more information.
 
  1. Learn a new skill, and make some new friends at the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Community Center.
233 W. Main St.

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Community Center offers many types of classes, like art classes, where you can learn new skills and meet new friends.

As we ease back into pre-COVID activities and begin venturing back into the community, it may seem a little awkward interacting with people IRL again. Personally, I am much more conscious of giving people the appropriate amount of space now, especially indoors. To ease the transition and satiate our human need for interaction, visit the Community Center's Fun Times Guide this winter for a complete list of COVID-conscious gatherings, and pick up a new hobby.

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Community Center is located at 233 W. Main St.

The Parks and Recreation Department strives to enhance the lives of Fort Wayne residents by making positive opportunities a possibility for all members of the community. Every quarter, the Center releases its Fun Times Guide, detailing countless classes and events, such as ukulele lessons, pottery classes, and energy workshops. 

Some activities are specifically focused on self-care, like Adult Coloring Relaxation Sessions (page 42).
 
  1. Retreat, relax, and renew yourself at The Downtown Wellness Spa.
122 W. Wayne St.

The Downtown Wellness Spa is located at 122 W Wayne St.

If you're still feeling in a rut and need to press the reset button, maybe a day at the spa is just what you need to boost your energy levels. The Downtown Wellness Spa promotes non-surgical procedures to enhance both your external radiance and your inner health. This locally owned retreat is an excellent space to explore holistic remedies, from weight loss programs and food allergy tests to skincare products and colon hydrotherapy.

In addition to its numerous services, the Wellness Spa also provides Reiki therapy. If the weight of your world has rested on your shoulders for too long, Reiki might be able to help. Originating in Japan, Reiki concentrates on the healing of the mind, body, and soul via energy balancing. While there is no scientific research to support the benefits of the therapy, Reiki Master Teacher, Lyndy Guevara goes out of her way to create a healing and empowering experience for all of her participants.

***

This list only features a few of the many ways you can enjoy Downtown to find peace and support some of the local businesses in our community. While relaxation and self-care are important, it is not a replacement for seeking help from certified mental health practitioners. Self-care is not always beautiful or enjoyable. We recommend if you or a loved one are struggling with your mental health, explore some of the many options we have locally for professional therapy services, like Courageous Healing Inc

As always, stay safe, support local businesses, and be kind—especially to yourself—this winter.

Read more articles by Desaray Bradley.

Desaray is expecting to graduate from Purdue University Fort Wayne in the spring of 2021 with a bachelor's degree in Communication: Media and Culture and a minor in Public Relations. She enjoys traveling, photography, and short story writing in her free time.