As someone who has spent almost their entire life in the Midwest, you'd think that I would have conquered the cold by this point. Unfortunately, I very much have not. I also deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), so winter is kind of a hellscape for me. In an attempt to stay sane, I have tried literally hundreds of cold weather self-care tips and trends over the years — some with amazing results, some with really embarrassingly bad ones. Like, the time I tried a "soothing face mask" and my entire face swelled up for two weeks. So, by my experience, here are eight cold weather self-care hacks that actually work — no face-swelling required.
I should add, by the way, that these are hacks that work for me. Everybody functions differently, but between commuting to work in five inches of slush and watching the sun rise and set at your desk, you definitely need a little pampering right now. And more importantly, you need to figure it out for yourself. Why? Because it's empowering to find a self-care regimen that actually enacts physical and emotional change. You feel invincible — or at least, noticeably less miserable.
My cold weather hacks are a mix of suggestions that warm you up both inside and out, while treating the unfortunate side effects of cold, like cracked skin and stiff joints. Burrowing under blankets won't bring about that cozy, safe feeling if your brain isn't on board, though, so if notice yourself feeling irritable, low energy or depressed during winter months, talk to somebody. Ask for help. Winter is tough, but it doesn't last forever.
1. Make Yourself a Cup of Tea
Drinking hot tea does more than just warm you up. Even though you're not sweating, your body can become dehydrated from a combination of the dry winter cold outside and the dry heating vents inside. If you're not one of those people who casually drinks 100,000 liters of water a day, tea is a great way to trick yourself into hydration. Plus, it's cozy AF.
2. Invest in a Humidifier
Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier, Amazon, $26.68
A humidifier is not the sexiest thing to have in your bedroom, but it treats dry skin, soothes your sinuses, and prevents future infections. You'll look better and breathe easier. Why would you not want any of those things?
3. Stretch It Out
Working out in the winter is the worst and therefore I do not do it nearly enough. If I manage to even get to the gym, sweat combined with chronically dry skin makes me a disgusting, scritchy-scratchy monster. However, if you're constantly hunching around under a blanket or a parka or five scarves, there's a good chance that your body is in need of some serious stretching and a heavy dose of endorphins.
I recently bought a subscription to YogaGlo, which, for $18/month, gives you access to a huge library of DIY yoga videos. I focus on Vinyasa Flow, which keeps you moving and gets you sweating almost immediately. It's helping. Seriously.
4. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
LUSH Dream Cream, $27.95
Seriously, grease yourself up. Sound gross? Shedding skin like a snake is grosser. Also, constantly scratching at your scaly snake skin is maddening to you and disconcerting to everyone else. So enough with it all, right? LUSH's Dream Cream is a scale-busting blend of oat milk and lavender to soothe your skin, and olive oil and cocoa butter to moisturize it. It is amazing and lasts forever, so maybe consider buying me a tub if you're getting one for yourself? Just a thought.
5. Try Dry-Brushing
LTI Beauty Natural Bristle Body Brush, Amazon, $19.95
Dry brushing is said to jumpstart your lymphatic system, which helps remove toxins from your body. It's also a great way to battle winter skin, so you'll be killin' the game inside and out.
With a natural (not synthetic), long-handled bristle brush, start brushing your dry skin in circular motions towards your heart. Go over each section several times. Do this for your whole body. Be sure to stand in either the shower or tub, so you're not shedding skin all over the floor. Once you're done, hop in the shower and, if you can help it, alternate between super hot and super cold water. Slather on lotion or body oil post-shower to lock in moisture.
6. Get on That Supplement Train
You should do your research and check with your doctor before starting on any sort of serious supplement regimen, but personally I am all about natural supplements for a physical and mental boost. Right now I'm rocking a killer combo of Vitamin D, St. John's Wort and Omega-3 to combat some hardcore SAD symptoms and like, I'd prefer for a majority of my paycheck to not go to my local YES! Organic store, but... it's worth it for me and my brain.
7. Eat Seasonally
You know what's in season in the winter? Root vegetables. You know what goes great in stews and soups and all kinds of hot 'n' cozy crockpot recipes? Root vegetables. Listen to Mama Earth and cook a li'l something warm and veggie-filled, just for you. Maybe even try imbuing them with positive thoughts. Maybe you'll become a kitchen witch. That would be amazing.
As an extrovert, keeping a regular social calendar is an important element of my self-care, especially in the winter. Make a weekly date with one friend or 10 friends. Maybe you'll try a new restaurant each time, or you'll whip up a meal together, or you'll becomes regulars at half-off movie night. Me? I just started a knitting-and-TV club. With one person. She teaches me to knit while we watch Jane the Virgin on Netflix and talk about how we would pay Gina Rodriguez to just smile at us. It's cozy and amazing.