There are lots of articles out there about how to deal with the cold. And lots about how to deal with a dry climate. Unfortunately, these articles always seem to be mutually exclusive. Most of the ideas to warm you up will dry you out like a prune, and most of the anti-dry methods will chill you to the bone. I suppose these suggestions are fine if you live in a chilly rainforest or the middle of the Arabian desert, but I do not live in either of those places.

Calgary is pretty much legendarily dry. When I lived in Toronto, the humidity was astounding, especially when I stepped off the plane in late August. Beautiful, wonderful humidity, that Torontonians seem to universally despise, but my skin and respiratory system adored. Inevitably, as the temperature dropped and autumn set it, the humidity would drop. Every fall there’s a day where you suddenly notice it’s dry. This is where most Torontonians switch from loathing the humidity to missing it, bemoaning the dryness of winter. And yes, it is dry. Drier, that is, than summer. But, just as a winter in Australia is colder than a summer there, going from 40° to 20°, it is not really that dry, just as an Australian winter is really not that cold. Whenever I flew back to Calgary for Christmas, every breath I took pushed my nostrils closer to an unauthorized strike. Calgary enjoys an average humidity of 55% in the winter as compared to Toronto’s 80% in the winter. Itchy, itchy.

As it turns out, there aren’t very many solutions to cold, dry weather that don’t involve running a heater and a humidifier 24/7 and sending your electricity bill through the ceiling (and possibly causing some sort of ceiling mould problem). So, it’s all about tackling the cold, and then countering the super dryness from the weather and the added heat.

  1. Keep hydrated with warm fluids. I really like tea of all kinds.
  2. Heat up a beanbag in the microwave and take it to bed with you.
  3. Invest is some nice, thick merino wool socks. I love Smartwool. Cold feet make me miserable, and I assume that’s relatively universal.
  4. Get a space heater. Look for one that will turn off automatically once the room is a certain temperature.
  5. Hot baths are great for warming you up… and drying you out like a prune. So, space out your baths as much as possible, as soon as you get out, lotion up!
  6. Dress in layers. Again, I love merino gear. Smartwool and Icebreaker are my favourites.
  7. Invest in a down sweater for quick, compressible warmth. I love my Mountain Hardwear Nitrous Jacket.
  8. Be sure to get enough sleep and eat well. Your body will appreciate all the energy and use it to keep you toasty.
  9. Break a sweat. Exercise, that is.
  10. Stock up on high quality lip balm, lotion, and body butter, and keep them everywhere. I have lip balm in my purse, my desk, and my bedside table. Lotion and body butter are in all the same places.

How do you cope with the cold & dry?

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