Staying Warm – A Winter’s TaleDepositphotos_16640443_xs

Its official, the winter chill has truly descended upon us. Though we live in the subtropics, its still relatively cold in Brisbane and we need to act appropriately. Generally speaking, we don’t have the same heavy duty warm clothing as residents of Melbourne and Sydney, so we need to be extra vigilant that we’re suitably covered, or at least protected.

I landed in Brisbane in the early eighties, after surviving 23 years of Melbourne winters. Back in the day (showing age here), we were well versed in the art of keeping ourselves warm. My family home was warmed by only a briquette burner (really showing age here !) being as it was, before the advent of oil heaters and later, central heating. By the way, I reckon you could have cooked a four course meal by the time the briquettes actually caught on!

So, to stay warm, we hugged our hot water bottles close to us, donned bed socks and dressing gowns at night and were sure to be rugged up during the day. T’was a matter of survival. Having warm feet and hands, one’s lower back covered and insulated and neck protected, were givens.

I took a walk this morning, from the Evolve Natural Medicine Clinic in New Farm, down to the local shops, to get a piping hot organic minestone soup. On this trip i didn’t see a single female with closed footwear. I reflected on having been told many years ago that if a woman was ever spotted not wearing appropriate footwear in China, she would be considered crazy and be given a well-intentioned lecture, right there in the street !

Scant footwear aside, there was a lot of skin to be seen as well. The young guys did no better in my informal survey, being as they were, dressed in shorts and thongs. We have lost our way somehow. Many people in Brisbane seem to have ‘winter denial’ and at their peril, though the results of such poor dress sense may not come home to roost for some years. Ain’t it so that the results of the choices of our youth are visited upon us in the ‘latter years’? Some cases of arthritis can be traced back to childhood habits and patterns.

I recall one case in clinic many years ago, of a gentleman who swore that he was fine one day and awoke the next day with the dramatic beginnings of rheumatiod arthritis. I interrogated him, due to my fascination with his story.

I am not suggesting its the only factor involved, but he clearly remembered swimming in the local creek, in really cold, deep waterholes, for years, during his younger years. Another client, a middle aged lady, who also was suffering rheumatoid arthritis, recalled walking barefooted around her family home all year round, when she was a younger. She grew up in Gippsland, Victoria and believe you me, thats a cold part of the world in winter. At the very least, I considered that these habits left these clients predisposed to joint pathology, later in life.

Adherents of Traditional Chinese Medicine have long maintained that the body is vulnerable to invasion by ‘cold and damp’ factors. These were seen to enter via the external environment, i.e, weather changes, severe conditions, or dietary choices, to name but a few.

So, heres a few tips aimed at giving you a fighting chance this winter, keeping in mind that observances made now,may well serve us in future days. This all said, I have to say that I, myself, just like being warm, so these things have always come naturally.

Keep yourself warm and consider old fashioned dress items such as scarf and gloves, if not cool, still very practical. My massage clients are always appreciative of all the efforts i make to have toasty hands come massage treatment time, i can tell you!! And hey, how about soaking away some of that everyday stress by immersing yourself in a hot bath with your favourite aromatherapy oils.

Make good use of hot packs, such as a heat wheat, or hot water bottle, especially at night time. Don’t sleep directly underneath an open window, or in a draught. Position your bed away from the window, as we are vulnerable to chills at night time. This is the time of the year that clients present to the clinic with a wry neck, which they woke up with and its often due to a chill, which occurred during the night.

During winter, don’t eat foods which are regarded as summer produce, e.g., melons, grapes, fruit salad. Minimise your intake of cold beverages and drink fluids at room temperature, if not hotter.

At your favourite cafe or restaurant, ask for water without ice. Ease off on salads as a main dish, better as a side dish to a warmer meal, with preference to steamed, baked,or lightly cooked meals.

Warm drinks are the go, as are soups. Don’t overdo the caffeine hits and remember to include the likes of ginger tea, green tea and rosehips tea amongst your daily beverages.

Great winter ingredients are: ginger, garlic, onions, leeks and root vegetables like sweet potato, butternut pumpkin.

Of course its always good to use tasty, fresh herbs, like coriander, basil, rosemary and so on, to season soups and stir fries. Needless to say, this is excellent weather for curries and hot noodle dishes with chilli.

May the warmth be with you all this winter.

Warmest regards,