Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Warmth and guilt

Today, my work is mostly brain-based, and sitting down.  The heating is on.

Growing up, the mantra was, "Put a(nother) jumper on!".  We used to joke that Dad had the central heating tuned so that he could tell if we turned the radiators on.  I had poor circulation, and felt the cold quite badly, but thanks to this training, became quite used to being a bit chilly.  I would never turn the heating for 'just me' until I became significantly uncomfortable - I felt guilty for wasting the money, wasting energy, destroying the planet.

Here's the thing, though: getting cold is very tiring!  Not only does your body have to do actual work, burning reserves to keep you warm, but your muscles will tense up, too.  Arms, belly, shoulders: all become tight and cramped.  News: that's effort!

A few years ago, a life coach said I should "Aspire to excellence in self-care".  For a start, that blows the 'just me' argument out of the water: I deserve the same comfort I would give to guests - and that includes keeping warm.  So I put the heating on whenever I feel the need.  But that's not all, of course: if you want to keep the thermostat down a notch or two, or if you have no heating, here's a list of my fave chill-busting tactics:
  • Sit under a blanket, with a hot water bottle if you like (pets will often help out here: in this house, you will quickly be joined by a dog if you bring out the blankets).
  • Put down a rug and wear some mitts!  The temperature of your hands and feet is incredibly influential to the way you feel.  I often type wearing fingerless mitts, and if you have laminate floor covering concrete, the chill can strike through even your shoes quite quickly.  (I have been known to bury my feet in the dog's beanbag to keep the tootsies warm).
  • Hot drinks are my constant companion, even now I've kicked the caffeine.  Cayenne pepper tea (a tiny amount, enough to cover your little finger nail, in a mug of boiling water) is a good one if you don't want caffeine/dairy/sugar, and it's warming due to the spiciness as well as the hot water.
  • Eat regularly - keep the internal boiler stoked!
  • Move around if you can, at least occasionally.  OK, you don't really want to leave your nice warm blanket-nest, but keeping your circulation moving will really, truly help.
And if you're still feeling guilty?  I try to remember that this journey is moving towards wellness.  I don't run around like a mad thing and expect to get better, or attempt to lose weight quickly and get better - both those things stress the body out too much for recovery.  Since being too cold is a stress on the body, why should I expect to spend my days feeling chilly - and still get better?  (Besides, being ill is expensive.  We may have the NHS in this country, but you start adding up the costs of lost working days, prescription charges, supplements/alternative remedies, paying for people to do the jobs you can't, extra considerations when travelling or on holiday - it adds up.  Investing a few pennies now in staying warmer is alright in my book).


  1. Hmm at least I don't pay for prescriptions any more but everything else - yes I agree it gets pricey (and Mark insists I keep warm - which is nice)

  2. The Norfolk Arthritis Register did a very interesting piece a few years ago on the hidden costs of rheumatoid arthritis - very interesting! I've tried to compile a similar one just for my own mild symptoms, on my blog. Heating was one thing I didn't think to put in, although I'm often freezing ... but like you I'm more inclined to have a hot drink or put a(nother) jumper on than turn the heating up, especially as hubby is usually toasty!