“Brrr”, is all I can say. As I write this, the view from my window is quite beautiful (at least from the warmth of the office). Tiny ice crystals glisten in the hues of the winter sun and the car park is adorned with bejewelled cars connoting the magic of Christmas is well and truly approaching. It’s cold! No two ways about it, this week has brought low temperatures, frost, and a true bite of winter. Keeping warm can help prevent illnesses such as colds, chest infections and flu, but it can also prevent far more potentially dangerous conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, depression, and pneumonia.
So, who’s most at risk and how we help ourselves and others?
Anyone can be at risk if your body temperature drops low enough but there are certain groups of people who will be more vulnerable:
The elderly (or over 65’s – these days not so classified as elderly!)
People with a long-term diagnosis such as kidney, lung, or heart disease
Those who struggle to pay the bills/on a long income
Now we know who’s at risk, what can we do to help ourselves and others? Here’s a few ideas that I hope will help broken down into sections for ease of remembering.
Delicious, nutritious meals are best practise anytime of the year but in winter this is especially important. Nutritious hot meals and hot drinks should be on your menu and in plentiful portions too. Much like a hibernating bear – this is the time to store a little extra to keep snuggly through the winter months.
Sitting in a chair or on the sofa all day long won’t do you any good at the best of times, but especially not if your home is chilly. Your body draws warmth through movement and even the smallest moves will help. If you struggle with mobility, try some exercises in your chair. Spread your daily chores through the day so you are not sat for more than an hour at a time. Make yourself walk upstairs (if you can) a couple of times extra through the day – or dance a festive, merry jig! Anything you can do which makes your body move will help raise your body temperature.
Keeping your home warm
How warm should my home be? Well, from reading a lot of information on this, best advice appears to be to keep your living room (or the room you spend most time in) at 21c and the rest of your home at 18c. However, if you feel cold and you can – turn up the heat!
Close the curtains when it starts to get dark and close the windows at night too as the temperature will drop to its lowest just before dawn. Also, check you don’t have big items of furniture in front of your radiators or anything closely over them (like a shelf) – they need to be completely unobstructed to do their jobs. If you feel a draught somewhere – plug it up if you can and if not ask for help.
Keeping yourself warm
It’s time to crack out the thermals and layer up from there. Getting your base layer right will help no end and these days there are some gorgeous thermals in the shops! Whether you go for ‘long-johns’ /thermal tights, short or long sleeve it really doesn’t matter if you wear them outside and in – just if your warm. Buy some good socks too – you can go thermal here as well. Lots of layers on top will work best as they trap the air in between, wool, fleecy synthetics are better than cotton at this time of year.
When heading outdoors (or in if you need too) wear a hat and gloves and wrap a scarf around your face, this will help warm the air you breathe and is hence entering your body. A good warm coat/jacket is vital too. Down Jacket, synthetic insulated or hybrid insulation are the warmest if you can afford them. Don’t forget your feet too – wear shoes with a good grip outdoors to help prevent slips and falls.
Take a hot bath or shower will help too – but make sure your bathroom is toasty warm when you step out and you have clothes ready to jump straight back into.
These are good for the body and the soul, so go on – treat yourself if you can. Hot water bottles, electric blankets, hot chocolate, a log fire, lots of blankets, warm cosy socks, let your pet sit on your knee, cuddle someone!
All of the above is easy if you have the means (financial or ability), but if you don’t please don’t sit in silence. Please ask a neighbour or a relative, even ask the postie to try and find someone that can help you. There are so many of us that will help you if we know you need us.
Stay warm all and if you can - have a little fun!