4 Essential Tips for Surviving Winter

After living in the Boston area for 24 years, I moved back to the NYC metro area to help my elderly parents. In comparison, this NYC winter has been mild and snowless. Yes, I am saying this even in the middle of a storm that is slated to bring 6-14 inches by tomorrow morning. Although my mother complains of this year’s bitter weather, I keep saying how warm it is.

While NY gets visits by a polar vortex, the winters in Southern New England are living in a polar vortex for months on end. January is the worst. 32 degrees Fahrenheit is the highest it gets and is often much lower. Snow can come on a weekly basis and often does. Biting wind whips across your unprotected skin every single day. Unless you find ways to effectively deal with the cold, you are one miserable person.

Here are 4 winter survival tips that I hope you find useful:

Tip #1: Wear fur-lined boots

Your boots do not have to have real fur. I have a pair of Bear Claw boots, similar to Uggs, that keep my feet nice and toasty with a thick layer of fake fur from my knees to my toes. Without some kind of fur lining, your tootsies will be like ice cakes.

Tip #2: Wear layers

Wearing multiple layers is another great way you can stay warm. I regularly wear a tank top under a t-shirt under a long sleeved shirt under a sweater and a second longer sweater under my coat with a scarf wrapped around my neck. You can strip off a layer or two during public transportation to make the commuter less sweaty. Sometimes.

Tip #3: Substitute Wool with Cashmere and Down

Sorry, but there is no way that wearing wool hats, scarves, and coats comes even close to keeping you warm in Boston winters. Want to be warm? Invest in a cashmere scarf, at least one cashmere sweater, a down coat, and a down duvet. I got more warmth from a single loosely-wrapped cashmere scarf that I bought on sale from Ann Taylor for $15 than any other scarf I ever wore. I have never been warmer (or saner) since.

Tip #4: Go out for walks every day

During winter in Boston, I used to refuse to go out except for work. If it was below a certain temperature, I would decline invitations and events. I saw the bitter cold as a reason to stay in. It would be warm soon enough, right?

Wrong! Unless you love the cold, staying in for months on end except to go to work is depressing. I battled seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a depressive disorder linked to lower levels of light in the wintertime, for many years. One year, I got sick of it. I refused to wait until spring time to get outside, which I missed terribly.

I started taking short walks, even if it was just to the store and back. Not only did I get to be in the outdoors more, I found that it helped my tolerance to the cold. Too much time spent indoors and in heated houses and workplaces only makes it that much harder for your body to adjust. This same dynamic happens in summer if you spend too much time in air conditioned locations and not enough outside when it is hot. Exposure helps tolerance.

Tonight, I will sleep under my down duvet and wake up tomorrow morning to shovel the snow, but only after I put on my tank top under my t-shirt under my sweater under….

Stay warm!


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