Gather Outdoors This Winter (Without Freezing Your Buns Off!)
Meeting outdoors to see friends and family has been a real lifeline for many during the past months, and so far, the weather has been pretty cooperative in the Northeast. But as Winter settles in, and temps drop in many parts of the country, that adds another layer of complexity. Human connection is essential for mental wellness.
Use these tips to stay comfortable while socializing outdoors, even in the cold!
Most Importantly, It's Easier to Stay Warm Than to Get Warm
Maintaining the body heat you have is much easier than trying to warm up once you've gotten a chill! So get ready for tips to keep your body heat in and keep the chill out!
In Norway they have a phrase: Friluftsliv. It means Free Outdoor Life. In Nordic climates where they have short, cold days for half the year (or sometimes longer), staying indoors is impossible! They also have another phrase: “DET FINNES IKKE DÅRLIG VÆR, BARE DÅRLIGE KLÆR” There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing! So….
Layer It On! Keeping the body heat in is essential. And that starts with the first layer!
Opt for a wool or synthetic base layer to maintain moisture levels, and AVOID cotton right against the skin. Synthetics and wool will wick moisture away and dry more quickly. Cotton holds sweat and water from rain, snow, (or even a spilled drink!) against the skin, and that will pull heat from your body.
The second layer should be something with a bit of loft that can serve as an insulating layer to keep the heat in. Think of a wool sweater, or fleece jacket.
Focus on Your Feet!
Socks – Wool or Polyester NOT cotton! Once your feet sweat, (and they will, even on the coldest days) wool or polyester will wick the moisture away. But cotton will hold the wet against your skin. If you’ve had wet feet in winter you know what that means- miserable cold feet! Try these heavier weight wool socks for a regular social gathering outdoors, and these medium weight socks for active outdoor adventures.
Even standing on cold concrete or frozen earth will pull heat from your body. At home, add an outdoor rug, and even an outdoor rug pad to further insulate. When you’re out, opt for rubber soled shoes instead of leather. In nature, standing for a prolonged period on a pile of compacted leaves or even a layer of sticks will provide a buffer between you and the cold earth.
Keep Your Hands Warm
Consider gloves with “tech friendly” features so you don’t have to remove your layer of warmth to respond to a text or call for back yard delivery! These gloves are pretty great layered under mittens for those extremely cold days. And hand warmers provide an extra boost when you need it!
Cover Your Head
Though it’s a myth that you lose 80% of your body heat through your head, keeping it covered still helps to maintain your warmth. Ears are one of the first extremities to suffer from frostbite, so cover up with a hat that has ear covers, headband that covers your ears, or go straight for full warmth of a balaclava that covers your whole head, neck, and nose/mouth. Everyone in my family received a balaclava for the holidays so we can keep cozy and keep in touch with friends!
Block the Wind
Fleece and wool are great to insulate, but you need a layer on top to keep the cold wind or rain/snow out. A waterproof or windproof shell will keep the wind from stealing the bubble of warm air that you’ve worked so hard to create underneath! And it doesn't need to cost a fortune. Try this one over your other layers.
Keep Your Buns Warm
Bring something warm to sit on. Insulation between your body and your seat will provide a barrier from the cold of a chair, bench, or the ground. A thick blanket works just fine, but a folded yoga mat could provide cushion and a thermal break! This awesome heated chair or heated sofa could be fun to bring to your next outdoor get-together.
Snack on Fat and Protein
Fuel your inner fire by getting your metabolism going. These foods will stay with your longer, thus maintaining your core temperature longer. Try nut butters or cheese on whole wheat crackers, strips of turkey or chicken breast wrapped in slices of cheese, or hummus and vegetables. Keep a few Kind Bars or granola bars in your bag while you’re on the go! Try this recipe for Warm and Zesty Spinach Dip in an insulated serving bowl!
Here it is again! My beloved H2O. HAHA! Guess What drinking water can also do?! Keep you warm!! Staying hydrated improves your circulation which means all that warm blood pumping from your heart can get to all your extremities. Any exercise outdoors in the cold also sucks more moisture from your body as you sweat or exhale than in the warm temperatures, surprisingly! And finally, a phenomenon known as cold induced diuresis can occur – simply stated, you pee more in the cold. The body sometimes increases urine production in cold temperatures, leading to faster dehydration. Yet ANOTHER reason to drink that water!
Warm Beverages like hot tea, hot chocolate, coffee and even hot water with lemon can be enjoyed outdoors in insulated cups, water bottles or thermoses. One fun idea is to set up a hot chocolate bar outdoors! Keep the hot cocoa warm on the side burner of a grill, and set up marshmallows and other toppings alongside! Encourage guests to BYO Travel mug!
Bring The Heat!
For a longer outdoor gathering, consider setting up a portable wood burning firepit (where permitted) or a propane unit like this one. If you’re at home, an outdoor wood burning or propane fireplace, firepit or outdoor heater can really increase the comfort level. Yes, these are in high demand and short supply. But there are even kits to build a simple at home fire pit. (Disclaimer: check with your local municipality for regulations on open flames) For times when you’ll be moving around, stash body warmers in your coat pocket or back pack!
Hopefully these ideas will help you to maintain your relationships while keeping cozy!
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