The long months of winter bring with them dry air, bitter winds and, for some of us, even clinical-grade depression. Don’t believe me? Do a search for “seasonal affective disorder” and see what comes up. There’s a reason its acronym is SAD.
While we might not be able to protect ourselves from every last one of these problems, staying warm, I’m pleased to report, is not just possible but can actually be quite easy – if you get creative with it.
Below are four “heat hacks” to help you and your family stay warm this winter. They’re easy to implement, and better yet, they don’t cost much.
Use Winter as an Excuse to Exercise
Even if you don’t suffer from perilously low blood pressure (as I do), there’s little doubt that remaining motionless in cold surroundings will do you no favors if you’re trying to stay warm.
This tip is almost too obvious to count as a “hack,” but it’s still quite useful on a bunch of levels. If you’ve been struggling to find motivation to start (or restart) your exercise routine, you might consider setting aside a spot in your house where you can do some basic exercises of your own, or follow along with a video like P90X, or the now-famous Seven Minute Workout. You’ll forget all about the winter blues in a couple minutes, and you’ll be on your way to getting fit, besides.
Fight Dry Air with Space Heaters and Electric Blankets
You almost certainly have a central heating system in your home. If that’s the case, you’ve probably noticed that all that hot air also has a tendency to be quite dry, leading to itchy skin and even nosebleeds from dry nasal membranes.
One thing you can do is look into alternative heat sources. Electric blankets are a perennial favorite, as are space heaters. As for your primary heat source, you might even look into alternative fuels such as propane or kerosene – just keep in mind that switching fuels might also bring with it unique safety issues and recommendations. Do your homework first.
Use Your Oven as Much as Possible
I don’t know about your household, but we tend to look for every opportunity to turn on our oven during the colder months. Whether we’re baking cookies, pot pies, or just looking for a flimsy excuse to turn on the self-cleaning feature, there’s little doubt: ovens are a truly wonderful source of heat.
One thing you may not have tried is allowing your oven to “multi-task.” While you’ve got that casserole or fruit cake in there, consider leaving the door open just a crack. You can also leave the door open after you’re done using the oven; they tend to take quite a while to cool down even after you turn it off, so you can put that extra heat to work warming up your kitchen.
Make the Most of the Limited Sunshine
Nobody enjoys the fact that the sun seems to be largely absent during the winter months. Besides simply recognizing that dark and overcast days are downright depressing, this lack of sunshine can also lead to other minor health problems.
Try to make a point of spending at least a few minutes outside every chance you get. Sure, sunny afternoons are few and far between during the winter, so jump on the chance to mingle outside when the sun does decide to show its face.
Barring that, you might also consider investing in Vitamin D supplements, though even these are a poor substitute for the real thing.