Warm advice for cold weather

There’s no use denying it: the snow is here to stay. Tempting as it might be to hide indoors and hibernate all winter, unfortunately that’s not realistic. But you don’t have to freeze, either.

Cold weather can have a negative impact on how you feel. It can change your mood, increase stress and irritability and decrease productivity. And all of these things affect your health. By making smart choices this winter, you can stay warm, happy and healthy!

The first thing to do is dress warmly.

Invest in long underwear, winter boots, a hat that covers your ears, a thick scarf and a heavy coat.

Wear gloves underneath mittens so that if for any reason you need to take off your mittens (to get out keys, to answer your phone or to find a bus ticket), your hands will still be protected from the wind.

Layering will keep you feeling nice and toasty, which is why you should wear a good quality sweater under your coat.

Move briskly to keep the blood circulating when you’re walking outdoors. Bonus: you get in some extra exercise, too.

Walking quickly will ensure your body stays warm and it will also keep your muscles toned throughout the winter, when we might have dropped our regular exercise regime.

Walking quickly will ensure your body stays warm and it will also keep your muscles toned throughout the winter, when we might have dropped our regular exercise regime

You can also try winter sports such as skating, skiing and snow-shoeing to keep your spirits up and your body in shape during this time of year.

Monitor how warm or cold you are when you step indoors after being outside. If your feet are a little damp, you need to get better shoes. If your head is cold, trade your hood for a hat.

Being aware of what body parts are exposed to the cool air and how you can protect and warm them will make it much more bearable to withstand the weather the next time you go outdoors.

Keep your house at a comfortable temperature. If your home is too chilly, you’ll have even less desire to go outside and you’ll feel cranky and unproductive.

If your landlord controls the heat, buy a couple of portable heaters and set them up near your desk or in your living room. Throw an extra blanket on the bed and wear slippers if your floors are cold.

Comfort foods are one of the best parts of winter. These foods are traditionally higher in calories and fat, but you can make nutritious versions of them.

Eat homemade chili, steamed vegetables with brown rice and lean meat (elk is a good choice), broth-based soup and oatmeal with sliced banana and a spoonful of chia or flax seeds. These warming foods will spread the warmth across your body. Tea is another great choice.

If you focus on keeping your body comfortable in the colder months, you’ll find that both your body and your mind will be in a healthier, happier place. Stay warm!

Sagan Morrow is a freelance writer and editor. Check out her health and wellness blog at www.livingintherealworld.net/healthy.

Published in Volume 65, Number 14 of The Uniter (December 2, 2010)

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