Note: I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on my podcast or blogs. Be smart…let your body be your guide. And consult with your doctor before starting a new physical regimen. Be cool...and safe!
The weather outside is frightful...or perhaps it's just delightful! So much depends on one's perspective. Many of us tend to over-insulate ourselves from our environment, using the air conditioner all summer long, and the heater all winter long. We avoid any conditions that feel any less than "ideal." But by doing so, we also end up missing much of the richness and feelings that each new season brings.
Some of us, including yours truly, enjoy the feelings and sensations and textures that accompany each changing season. By learning to use and wear less, we get the joy of truly experiencing each season. And we also feel more empowered by how strong our bodies are.
Now that the weather is colder, let's look at several reasons to embrace the colder weather and how to do it safely. Of course, I'm in California, where the "cold" here is much less "cold" than upstate New York. As mentioned earlier, it's important to always let your body be your guide.
There are environmental benefits to embracing the cold. Wearing and using less clothing reduces your carbon footprint. Less laundry is required, and clothing you currently own lasts longer.
Economic benefits include lower utility costs and less need to purchase new clothing. Saving money is always cool, but especially so during these days of red-hot inflation!
Physical benefits include feeling more physically connected to the world around you and simply more "alive!" Taking a walk or bike ride to experience the outdoor weather is a great alternative to driving, and it's a physical, as well as environmental benefit. Double win!
Mental benefits include feeling more empowered and resourceful, allowing you to overcome the feeling that "cold weather is limiting." And, it's true that there are and will be times where the weather is simply too extreme to experience safely, but for the most part, we often have our own ideas of "bad" weather that are often limiting what fun we can experience in life.
Now that you've seen some of the reasons why embracing the cold can be a good idea, here are some ways to do so. Again, I encourage you to try whatever ideas resonate with you. And, if you have your own ideas on how you embrace the cold, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to share some of those ideas in a future blog, or on my weekly public affairs edition of The Smiles Show!
Start by lowering thermostat a couple of degrees. Lowering the indoor temperature even just a few degrees can save considerable money on your monthly utility bill. And, having a cooler indoor temperature can be better for sleeping at night, too.
Take cooler showers. If this idea sounds "less than desirable," maybe start with a cooler shower for a couple of minutes at the conclusion of your warmer shower. And, cooler water usage is less expensive than hot water use, so there's that, too!
Go outside earlier in the day. This can allow you to acclimate to cooler temperatures. You may want to do shorter stints outside in the early morning, as your body begins to adjust.
Consider wearing a lighter jacket or sweater. If you normally wear a jacket, switch to a lighter sweatshirt first.
Start wearing a t-shirt without a jacket or sweater. Again, do this gradually. and it won't feel like such a "shock" to your body.
Start wearing shorts more. For many people, their legs don't get as cold as the rest of their body, so wearing shorts can be another way to work on embracing the cold.
These next suggestions are a bit more "hard core," for those who want to go further in embracing the cold. I like to do these things as well, but our average winter temperatures are generally in the 50sF (10C) during the day and 30sF (3C) at night. And, I mostly do my outdoor excursions during the day.
Substitute tank tops for t-shirts. You still have some coverage for your chest and back, but your arms are free, taking in the environment around them.
Substitute sandals for shoes. If you normally wear sneakers, try wearing sandals. Give your feet and toes a chance to be more connected to the environment.
Go barefoot in lieu of sandals. Being barefoot allows you to experience the tactile sensation of the season; crunchy leaves underfoot, cool grass or pavement, chilly sidewalks. I love these feelings; they make me feel so connected to the larger world around me. It does take time to get used to going barefoot, especially this time of year, so you may want to limit the barefoot walks to short jaunts during the warmest time of the day.
And, as you become more connected to the cold around you, you might consider donating your now-unused clothing and shoes to a local charity or non-profit organization.
One other note: A knit hat can make the difference if "challenged" in the hair department! It provides warmth, coziness, and also allows you to make a "fashion statement," while connecting to the world around you in a minimalist way.
Stay cool, my friends!