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How to Stay Warm in Winter

Write By: rach Published In: Ethical and Eco Living Created Date: 2016-06-01

Tips from a warm-weather woman trying to survive a cold-weather crisis! 

Image credit: earthporm

In the last few years I’ve lived in one of the coldest and most beautiful parts of this country - Tasmania. And I’ve just moved to an on-average colder area: Canberra. I’ve also endured a -30 degree celsius Siberian winter. All of these cooler climes have taught me a thing or two about how to stay warm when it’s cold outside, and even when it’s cold inside (cue complaints on terrible heating in rental houses). I know it can be easy to get bogged down by the bitter temps that fall upon us - I curse the cold regularly. But every now and then, just for some balance, I reckon it’s worth trying to foster an appreciation of winter and the good things that come with this season. For example, I’m thankful I don’t have to defend my pak choi from the scourge of white cabbage butterfly anymore, that I can begin another few months of experimentation with hot soup recipes, and that I can wear trackpants for 3 months straight. Appreciation does not keep my body warm, but it does keep my heart warm! 

Apart from lame jokes, here’s how I have survived winters past:

  • As far as it depends on you, try your best to find a good house to live in - one with good winter sunshine, good insulation and good heating.

  • Make small house improvements where possible and allowed - attach rubber and foam door seals, get door snakes, lay rugs / carpet offcuts on floorboards, use an indoor thermometer, move your bed away from the window!

  • Take advantage of all heat sources: loved ones, sunshine, head hair (life lesson: don’t shave your head in winter!), microwaveable wheat bags, hot water bottles, electric blankets, saunas, furry kittens.

  • Keep moving - exercise will improve your circulation and help you fight off any winter blues. Kit up with a beanie, full finger gloves, neck warmer & light wind-proof jacket if you’re finding it hard to step out the front door.

  • Get yourself a pair of real wool ugg boots to slip on - I wear the high ones for max warmth. It’s definitely worth saving for these if you can’t afford the 100 bucks straight up, they will last a really long time if you look after them.

  • While we’re speaking of wool - use it as much as possible. Chuck a thick woollen underlay on your bed beneath your sheets to keep your body heat reflecting back onto you, wrap yourself in a scarf or neck warmer and woollen blanket while lounging around the house, and pop on some fingerless woollen gloves when tapping away at your laptop.

  • SOCKS. Good quality, thick, reinforced socks made from natural fibres (such as wool or thick cotton) that breathe and allow sweat to evaporate are CRITICAL! You do not want sweaty feet in a cold climate, this will only make you colder. Avoid synthetic fibres unless you’re choosing purpose-made breathable hiking socks, for example. I have not been able to find truly good socks under about $15-25 a pair*, so choose wisely. *except at op-shops - a good place to look.

  • Welcome to the world of layers. Thermal pants and tops are your new best friends. I go for a merino wool top & pants combo - either a singlet or long sleeve top, depending on the temperature & outfit. I prefer merino because it’s so much warmer at a lighter weight than any other natural fibre. And like all woollens, merino triumphs over all other natural and synthetic fibres for the amount of times it can be worn before needing a wash again - it is amazingly stink resistant! If you can’t afford merino, cotton works well too - the thicker the better. These under layers will significantly enhance your warmth - do not ignore this step! See here for Fairtees' long sleeve tee options for ladies and men.

  • Finally, if you grew up in a warm climate like me, you’ll need to learn to get dressed again. Introducing a technique learnt from cold-weather natives, which I like to call ‘The Double Tuck’. This is not a double somersault into your mid-air-suspended undies and socks, but rather a twice-tucking mechanism utilised when putting on three or four layers. Allow me to explain:

How to perform The Double Tuck:

1. You’re just out of the shower - once you’ve got your underwear and thermal pants on, it’s time for your singlet/thermal top. Tuck this well into your thermal pants. This will remove any chance that a cool breeze will dart up under the back of your jumper and chill your buttocks and back. 

2. Now, put your socks on over your thermal pants, and then put on your outer pants. (if wearing a skirt and tights, place socks over your tights). Some people also like to add leg warmers over the outside of their outer pants. 

3. Ok, it’s time for the critical part: put on your second top, be it a tee, top or button-up shirt. Are you ready?  Use your full hand and Tuck. It. In. This is not the time for a half-hearted tuck! Ensure you remove all gaps. I find it tucking is easiest if your pants are unzipped.

4. Place your next or final outer layer on: your jumper, hoodie, cardigan, coat or suit jacket, and seal in that warmth. Congratulations, you are now impenetrable. Just make sure you keep tucking those two layers back into each other again every time they come out.

5. Last but not least: good tuck, I mean, luck. And a happy and warm winter to one and all!

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