Winter can be an oppressive season for many, and for more reasons than just holiday shopping. The super-early sunset and many hours of darkness, not to mention the bitingly cold winter winds, all add to the reasons people feel sluggish or even depressed in the winter season. Ask any restaurant owner and they’ll tell you the reason that January and February are the slowest months for business is because people tend to hide inside their houses during the coldest parts of the year.
Add that to the money-spending expectations the holiday season brings, and winter quickly becomes a time of worry and weight gain.
So what can you do to fight off the lack of motivation to do anything but curl up on your couch and watch re-runs of the X-Files? How can you save your wallet from the hungry retail industry during the holidays? How can you prevent your thermostat from doubling your heat or electric bill? There are simple things everyone can do to combat the cold, the lack of sunlight, the thermostat, and your rising credit card balance.
Exchange Price Tags for Talent
Almost everyone has something they are good at. Whether you can paint an awesome outdoor landscape on canvas, craft an enviable holiday wreath, fix any kind of home appliance, or cook like a four-star sous chef, these talents can all be used to substitute gifts bought with cash. Whether you prepare home-made meals (this is especially appreciated by older folks), fix the broken hot tub that’s been sitting useless in your brother’s back porch for two years, or knit a scarf and hat for your mother – there are endless ways individual talents can manifest as the most unique and memorable gifts.
Work-out Right where you’re at
Some people love to run outside, but just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you have to settle for a treadmill. Simply dress warmly enough to run outside – running tights and moisture-wicking tops are ideal for running in cold weather. Don’t want to run outside or inside? Get yourself a work-out video that motivates you: Zumba, Wii fitness, dance aerobics or even P90X – whatever you’ll most look forward to. If you can’t seem to muster enough self-motivation, then schedule home workouts with a friend and alternate whose house you use.
Alleviate the Side Effects of Winter with a Sunlit Diet
The long hours of moonlight may be great if you’re a vampire, but an ongoing lack of exposure to sunlight can literally cause mild depression. Even if it’s cold or overcast, try to spend a little time outside every day. Your body and your mind will thank you for the natural source of vitamin D. If it’s not possible to spend much time outside during daylight hours, take a vitamin D supplement.
Go Old School with Electric Blankets and Gas Heaters
Rather than turning up your thermostat, keep your butt on an electric pad or curl up under an electric blanket. They use very little energy, so why not? Even in fairly cold environments, with enough layers and an electric seating pad or blanket, you can stay pleasantly warm.
You might also consider making a change in how you heat your house by switching to kerosene or propane heat for your primary source – especially if you have electric heat. Just remember that different fuels have different recommendations and safety issues to keep in mind.
Make your Oven Multi-task
I always leave my oven door open during the winter after using it. Ovens take quite a while to cool down, and they provide significant heat even after they’re turned off.
Use Aluminum Foil to Stop Heat from Escaping
It might sound weird, but another popular winter hack is to put aluminum foil under and around your heating sources. It reflects the heat back into the house so less escapes. Think of it as a low-tech holiday decoration.
Get Serious About those Cracks
Drafty gaps in your doors, windows, walls, vents, and anywhere else that allows heat to escape and cold air to blow in should be meticulously sealed up with caulking or another method. Drafty spaces are some of the biggest causes of heat loss in a house.
Get a few Ordinary Items Before you get Stuck in the Snow
Many of us have known the frustration of getting our cars stuck in the snow. This is usually because the wheels spin around on the ice or snow and can’t get traction to move forward or backward. There are everyday materials you can use to provide your tires with traction to help you out of a ditch or even your driveway, such as:
- Kitty litter under the tires
- An old area rug or piece of carpet kept in your trunk can serve both as a way to protect your windshield from snow and ice, as well as double as a tool to provide traction for your car.
- If you have nothing else on hand, try using your car floor mats.
Make Vinaigrette for your Car Windows
Most of us know at least one or two household uses for vinegar, but most don’t know that a solution of vinegar and water, sprayed onto your car windows and windshield, will keep the ice at bay. It won’t, however, miraculously blow the snow off for you.
Accident Prevention for a Penny
For a single penny, you can check your tire tread before finding out the hard way as you slide 30 feet across an intersection. Just stick the penny into the tire tread. If Lincoln’s head is visible above the tread, it’s time to replace your tires.
There are plenty of ways to cope with winter blues, holiday madness, and bad weather, thanks to little-known secrets and home remedies. With just a little bit of creativity, you can stay warm, healthy, and happy this winter without breaking the bank.