I'm not a fan of the cold. My Mediterranean ethnicity coupled with my upbringing on the balmy Gold Coast has conditioned me for warmth and heat. But over the years I've learnt to shoulder the cold with the following coping strategies that make the colder months a little more bearable:
1. Hot water bottles. Yep, that good old-fashioned heating method that grandma used. I fill with boiling water and pop into my and my kids' bed a hour or so before sleep time. There are soft covers you can now buy that makes for a cuddly bedfellow!
2. Heat packs. The ONLY time I use a microwave oven and the ONLY reason why I still own one is to heat up my heat pack. I place a glass of water in the microwave when heating my heat pack for safety reasons in case the heat pack overheats and catches fire. I lay the hot heat pack lengthways down my spine from the base of neck and lie over it in bed before falling asleep. It's a great way to instantly feel warm and a lovely chest opener to counter the effects of all of the forward motions we do all day. Especially great for breastfeeding mums! Seed Clothing sells cute little heat packs for little people (pictured).
3. Thermals. I buy woollen thermal tops and bottoms from Target each winter. Can be used as outerwear, underwear, PJs etc.
4. Flannelette sheets: these make a massive difference to keeping warm in bed. The new range of plain-print brushed-cotton sheets are a far cry from the hideously-printed wog versions I grew up with. Chemical-free flannelette sheets that are very affordably priced can be purchased from Ecodownunder.
5. Hot baths and showers before bed. I can't sleep for life or death if I'm even slightly cold not matter how tired I am. If you don't have a water filter attached to your bath to remove chlorine (or if your bath - like mine - can't accommodate a water filter) then consider purchasing a bath ball dechlorinator to remove chlorine which can be purchased from iherb for $35. Simply stick ball in bath, fill bath, allow to stand for 5 mins, remove ball then stick in kids (or yourself!). Replace ball annually. I also add 1/2-1 cup of Epsom salts to the bath for mineral (esp magnesium) aborption and a few drops of lavender essential oil for a calming effect.
6. Put on an extra layer of clothing before turning on heating but if you must turn on heating do NOT use an unflued gas heater. i.e. the portable ones with a gas hose that you plug into a gas bayonet to heat your house. A few months back I read a research paper issued by NSW Health (dated 3/3/11) on the dangers of unflued gas heaters. The upshot is that:
(A) Gas heaters produce heat through burning gas fuel. When gas fuel is burnt, air pollutants are produced and released directly into the room.
(B) The air pollutants released are carbon monoxide (which deprives body of O2, impairs thinking and reflexes) and nitrogen dioxide (which can cause irritation of the respiratory tract and shortness of breath). Children, unborn babies and elderly are more effected.
As my integrative GP Dr Min Yeo wrote to me, if you have an unflued gas heater "get rid of it IMMEDIATELY! They are horrendously toxic and poisonous! You will have chronic carbon monoxide poisoning amongst other toxins. They are banned in Victoria with good reason."
Flued (fireplace) gas heaters, electric heaters or central heating (while they do have a dehydrating/ drying effect on the body) do NOT have this problem of toxicity.
7. Hot drinks. Dust off the old fashioned thermos container, fill with home-made stock, hot water or herbal tea and sip away all day. Click here to read about my favourite hot drinks.
8. Move. high-intensity interval and strength training gets the heart rate going, the blood pumping and heats the body. Not to mention the feel-good endorphins that are produced that buoy the spirits at this naturally dreary time of year. Releasing (via foam rollers and small balls that trigger pressure points) and stretching (eg yoga) are equally important in this weather as muscles tighten and everything contracts. If you're looking to train at a gym a few that I have been to and can highly recommend are Centennial Health Club at EQ Moore Park where I currently train ($20 per week for unlimited classes- say I referred you!), Primal Fitness at Double Bay (specialising in one on one PT sessions) and Origin of Energy at Bondi Junction (specialising in group classes). If you are self-motivated you could d0 your own sprints at a park or beach or up some hills (anything that provides resistance is preferable) and even better is to get a group of friends to join. If you've got kids in tow and can't make it to a gym or class you might like to read one of my earlier posts here about suggestions for movement while mothering.
Do YOU have any tips for keeping warm over winter? I'd love to hear.