Winter is coming. No wait, winter is here. Isn’t winter almost over? Oh for Pete’s sake, what’s up with this crazy weather lately!? In South Africa, winter should be coming to an end. But it seems like the opposite is busy happening. It just seems to be getting colder and colder! Is it just us, or has it been really cold these past couple of weeks? It seems like those cold fronts down in the Cape just keep on getting further and further inland. We should really put a stop it soon, or the next ice age will be upon us in no time! But suppose we can’t find a way to stop global weather patterns from happening, what then? How are we going to keep cozy if this weather doesn’t change soon? Read on to find out more about keeping cozy as winter drags on…
Why do we have winter?
Some of you might think that this is a dumb question. But to me it is perfectly relevant. Why should there be a time of year when the days are short and the nights are cold? Can’t we just stay in eternal summer and laze our days away at the beach? Do we really have to face the cold each morning as we make our ways to work while it is still dark outside?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Because we live on planet Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy, we will always undergo seasonal change in South Africa. Well, always is relative. Maybe in another 500 million years or so South Africa might be at the equator. But for all practical purposes, we will always experience winter here in SA.
Orbits and stuff
You see, Earth spins around the sun on an elliptical axis. In other words the orbital path of our planet is not perfectly round, like a soccer ball. It is more oval shaped, like a rugby ball. This means that Earth is not always the same distance from the sun. At times when our planet is further from the sun, we experience colder weather, also known as winter.
Another big contributor to winter is the way our planet is tilted on it’s rotational axis. So basically earth doesn’t stand up straight. It is tilted at an angle of roughly 23.5 degrees, which means that the northern and southern hemispheres do not receive the same amount of sunlight throughout the year. When the south has winter, like now, the north has summer and vice versa. The northern hemisphere tends to have more severe winters than the southern hemisphere, that is why Europeans and Americans are so adept at keeping cozy!
This is a very short and un-detailed description of how the four seasons come about. But seeing as this is not a geography blog, we decided to only give you a very brief introduction to planetary movement. If you want to know more about how Earth orbits the Sun, check out this video at IgeoNews. Or read this brief explanation on Quora
Now that we have a better idea of why we have to go through waking up in the cold for a couple of months each year, let’s think of a few ways to stay cozy and ward off the cold! We don’t know about you, but over here at The Mattress Warehouse we don’t like to be cold. So we thought of a couple of ways to stay warm, even when the seasons don’t want to play along.
This is probably the best advice that we can give you. Whatever you do this winter, try to keep warm. It is much easier to maintain your body heat than to generate new body heat. So staying warm is much easier than getting warm. Once you lose that heat, it takes a whole lot of effort and energy to regain it. Pay special attention to your hands and feet. They tend to lose heat faster than the rest of your body, and besides, no-one likes it when you get cold feet.
Now you might ask, how should one keep warm in such cold weather? Good question, love where your head’s at! Believe it or not, it is possible to stay warm this winter. You just need to layer up. Insulating your body heat behind a couple of layers of clothing is a good way to keep warm. If you are going out, don’t put on a short sleeved shirt and a ski jacket over it. If the jacket is too warm, you won’t really be able to take it off, because then it will be too cold again. That’s why you should dress up in these layers:
Wear a snugly fitting, cozy undershirt. It is not only good to keep you warm, but it has other benefits as well. If you tend to sweat easily, you can wear an undershirt to absorb the sweat and keep the body odour under control. It also serves as a buffer between your sweaty skin and your favourite party shirt/dress (more wears&less washes = longer closet lifetime).
You can wear these under a dress, skirt or under your trousers. They just create a nice layer of insulation close to your legs. Wearing a dress or a skirt in winter can really cause a lot of chilly discomfort, but wearing leggings, long-johns or even pantyhose can take the edge off that cold wind that sometimes swirls around the ankles.
3. Thick socks
These are essential. When it is cold, I hardly go anywhere without a pair of thick socks on. Keeping my feet warm is my number one priority, because as soon as they go cold, my body temperature just plummets! Make sure that your socks aren’t sitting too tight, though. Because it might constrict blood flow to your feet, which will also result in cold feet. Wearing shaped socks in your foot size is the ideal!
After covering up most of your skin with undershirts and leggings, you can start dressing to impress. Put on a nice shirt and a neat pair of trousers. Jump into a dress or a skirt and a nice top. As we mentioned earlier, the undergarments will protect your fancy clothing from sweat. It will also protect the public from the smell of your sweat. On top of that, it adds another layer to the coziness.
Now you can start putting on some warm stuff as well. You know that you have the base covered with two layers of snug fitting clothes, so your core temperature should be fairly well regulated. On top of that you can start pilling on the jerseys, pullovers, jackets etc. I prefer having a pullover on over my shirt to keep my chest and lungs warm and then over that I’ll wear a sweater or a hoodie. Then, if I get warm, I can start removing layer upon layer of clothing. It might be a discomfort to lug the jackets around if it gets to warm, but I’d rather suffer some discomfort than get cold. Besides, carrying around heavy jackets is strenuous work, so it adds to your body heat.
Time to top it off with a hat, a scarf or some gloves. Or all three of those! It always helps to keep your extremities warm. We’ve spoken about losing body heat via the head and hands in previous posts, so we won’t go into too much detail about that now. But keep in mind that your hands are far from the heart and stick out from your body. Because of that, you can easily lose body heat through the hands. Does wearing gloves start to sound more sensible?
Duh! You can’t forget those! What good would it do to wear form fitting warm socks if you don’t plan to wear any shoes? Unless you plan to stay in bed or on the couch all day, then socks are good enough. Seriously though, when it is cold outside, protect your feet. Put them in comfortable, warm shoes. Slippers would have been ideal, but your boss might not agree… (Just for interest’s sake, it is a lot easier to fall asleep with warm feet as opposed to trying to fall asleep with cold feet).
And there you have my seven layers of insulation. These are just a guide for when you go out, or go to work. But surely, there are more scenarios in which you have to keep cozy? Layering up can’t be the only way to keep warm, can it? What about blankets and cozy fireplaces? Don’t you worry child, we’re getting there. Patience!
Here is some of the best advice you will ever read, so read carefully. If you want to get cozy, find someone to snuggle up with. It doesn’t even need to be a person, it can be your cat or dog as well! Body heat generates body heat, so putting two warm bodies close to each other means that they have a better chance of staying warm than if they were separate.
And apart from making or keeping your body warm, snuggling up will also make your heart warm. ‘Cause let’s face it, we don’t really snuggle up with people or pets who aren’t close to our hearts!
If you follow this blog, you might be getting a bit tired of seeing the word “eat”. We tend to talk about eating a lot lately, but that is simply because it is such an integral part of healthy living. What you eat and when you eat it can literally make or break your day. Eating has so many benefits if you do it right and it can be super detrimental if you do it wrong. That is why we keep shoving food talk down your throats. So please hear us out, or read us out, rather.
If you eat at regular intervals, your blood sugar will likely stay more or less at the same levels. This is a good thing. It is what you want. You don’t want your blood sugar to go up and down like a roller coaster. It will make your body and your mind tired. Not to mention, if you don’t eat, you won’t have energy to keep yourself warm. You really don’t want to go there on a cold day, because coming back from that chilly place takes a lot of effort!
So just eat something every now and then. You don’t need to eat a warm plate of food or chilies to keep you warm. A handful of nuts every 50 minutes should do it. Try to switch it up a bit and have an orange or a banana instead of the nuts. The basic idea is just to keep your energy levels constant, so that you can produce and maintain that much needed body heat.
Use a gas heater
Winter in South Africa isn’t always the easiest of times. We want to keep ourselves warm, but then the power goes out because of load shedding. Maybe it is time to get yourself a mini gas heater for instances like that. It might be expensive when you buy the heater, but you save a lot of misery once you have the thing. And besides, a gas heater is cheaper than paying for pneumonia treatment! You can also still use gas, even if the power is on. Gas is cheaper than electricity, so you can keep warm for less.
Warm water bottle
To prepare your bed for a cozy night, put a warm water bottle in bed about half an hour before you climb in. It really helps to break the chill of the blankets! Just be careful not to burn yourself on the bottle! And recycle the water inside the bottle, don’t just flush it down the drain once you are done with it. Reuse the water in the bottle to save water, because it is precious.
Hint: Don’t make tea with the water that comes out of your warm water bottle. It doesn’t really taste all that good…