As winter approaches, even in the more temperate climates, it can be challenging to adjust. Your body is used to being warmed by the summer sun. And even the brisk fall months may not have prepared you for cold, dark times ahead.
When the sun is further from the earth, the days are shorter and seem bleaker. Fortunately, if you follow these five tips, you stand a good chance of staying warm all winter.
1. Prepare Your Home
Understandably, many people spend more of their time inside during the winter months. Daylight hours are fewer, and temperatures can drop dramatically. It just seems wiser to stay indoors as much as possible. However, more time inside means doing all you can to keep your home toasty all day and night. A few updates and changes to your living space will help keep it comfortable all season.
Whether you have a standard furnace or a heat pump system, have it serviced to ensure uninterrupted operation during the depths of winter. Check your windows and doors for any drafts and apply weatherproofing where necessary. Lay down rugs to pad hard floors and insulate large rooms. Also, keep your blinds or curtains closed except when direct sunlight hits the windows. Take these steps before the snow really flies, and you’ll avoid shivering in your home.
2. Enjoy a Roaring Fire
Many people have fireplaces or wood-burning stoves that can give their home a cozy ambience. There’s nothing like a fireside hot cocoa or Irish coffee with a good book on a frigid day. Yet for all the warmth a fire seems to provide, most fireplaces result in more heat loss than gain. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of heat you lose while still enjoying those flickering flames.
As with doors and windows, a good caulking around your hearth can stop incoming drafts and keep treated air from escaping. While somewhat less enchanting than an open fire, an airtight glass door is another possibility. It can prevent heat loss while still allowing you to gaze upon the leaping flames. Installing a heat exchanger is even better, as it will circulate heated air back into your home rather than sending it up the chimney.
3. Get Enough to Eat
There’s a reason that fireside cocoa tastes so much better with some cookies alongside it. You may have noticed you feel hungrier during winter. That’s because eating warms you up! It’s true; the act of eating and digesting causes your body temperature to rise. Yet many people don’t realize the value of getting enough to eat and eating the right foods during winter.
While any food will help, warm foods that combine carbs with protein and some fat are the optimal choice. It makes sense if you think about the foods many cultures prepare during winter. Stews, soups, and casseroles are hot and rich, combining savory meats with starchy components and vegetables. These meals will help your internal heat rise.
4. Wear the Right Clothes
While layers can be a good idea year-round, they are even more essential during the freezing months. Layering shirts on top of tees and sweaters over shirts helps keep warmth close to your body. Follow this same line of thought when putting on pants; consider long underwear beneath your jeans or cords. Fibers matter, too — few cotton sweaters, no matter how heavy, will be as warm as a wool one. Once you’ve got top and bottom taken care of, pay attention to your head, hands, and feet.
While scientists no longer believe that people lose 50% of their body heat through the head, hats are still essential when it’s cold outside. So keep a nice, thick beanie at the ready to protect your ears and stay warm. Having high-quality, waterproof gloves can also make a world of difference; when your hands are freezing, it’s hard to enjoy yourself. Finally, wear thick socks around the house and pull on winter boots when you go out. Your whole body can be warm, but if your feet are cold, you’ll be miserable.
No, you don’t have to move zip codes or time zones to stay warm, but you do have to move your body. While you can exercise indoors, don’t discount the body-warming potential of an hour of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. It seems counterintuitive that going outside will warm you up, but it’s true. A wonderful adage of mothers everywhere is that there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. This expression remains true well beyond childhood.
Exercise in any weather naturally warms your body. So layer up; put on your hat, gloves, socks, and boots; and get outside. You can take a long walk, go sledding with friends and family, or chop wood or shovel snow. Anything that gets and keeps your body moving will warm you up inside and out. And maybe you’ll be so warm when you head inside that you’ll turn the furnace down and save yourself some money!
Embracing the Warmth of Winter
Between the joy of the holidays and the beauty of a snow-covered landscape, winter can produce warm feelings along with chilly toes. To ensure more savoring than shivering, prepare your home and yourself for the season. Winter can be a magical time of reflection that encourages you to dream big. But you’ll want to be warm while you do.