I’ve been asking on social media for your tips for keeping warm in the winter months with M.E. and have had some great suggestions, which I’ve summarised here.
One of the symptoms of M.E. is poor temperature control, so we have difficulties in both staying cool in the summer and keeping warm in the winter.
Being at home most, if not all, of the time and needing to keep warm can mean huge energy bills for people with long term conditions. The UK government runs the Warm Home Discount Scheme for people in this situation.
To be eligible you need to be in receipt of certain benefits but unfortunately this isn’t automatically given to you, so it must be applied for via your energy company, as soon as possible. For winter 2016 to 2017, you could get £140 off your electricity bill. To find out more check out the GOV.UK pages here or your energy company’s website. The information may say income-related/means-tested benefits but I found that the form itself also included contribution-based benefits too, if that is your only income. If you aren’t eligible, it’s still worth calling your energy supplier to see if they can help.
Some people with M.E. may also have Raynaud’s, where the extremities, such as fingers, toes or nose, change colour and become very painful and numb in the cold weather. You can find more information on the Raynaud’s & Scleroderma Association’s website here.
If you lose the feeling in your skin it’s important that you don’t use things that are too hot to warm them up, as you could inadvertently burn yourself and not feel it, so bear this in mind when using the tips below.
Moving on to your great tips!
- Have several hot water bottles on the go
- Disposable or reusable handwarmers
- Put your clothes on the radiator before bed so they’re warm for getting dressed in the morning
- Lots of snuggly fluffy throws, sheepskins and blankets
- Set an electric blanket on a timer to heat up about half an hour before bed and before getting up
- Use a heated throw
- Always have a hot drink on the go to warm your hands on
- Eat hot meals, starting with porridge for breakfast
- Wear lots of layers and if going out wear scarves, hats/beanies and gloves
- Gloves can be impractical at home, so try wrist warmers or fingerless gloves
- Have more than one microwaveable wheat bag so that there’s always a warm one ready to use
- Get your boiler serviced, or replaced via a grant scheme if it’s an old one, to make sure it’s working efficiently
I hope you’ve found these tips useful! If you’d like to leave your tips for others in the comment section below I’ll incorporate them into this list.
11 thoughts on “Your tips for keeping warm in the winter months”
Cashmere shawls – The cheap kind off Ebay. They’re thin, soft and light enough that they’re not too restrictive or irritating on sore skin, and they add a bit of quick warmth next to the skin.
If you are getting dressed – String vests and fishnet tights work almost as well as “real” baselayer, but are much cheaper. At a medium price point, most army surplus places sell stretchy cotton baselayers which might smell a bit odd, but do the job admirably.
If money is no object, silk or merino super-fine knitted baselayer is like wearing a warm cloud – Not clingy and sweaty, just pleasantly warming.
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Thanks for the extra tips, Percy 😀
I know your tips are eminently practical Percy, but my eyes did pop at the thought of combining a string vest and fishnets. When I don’t want ‘proper’ gloves, I wear thin white cotton ones that I can buy at the pharmacy as a protective layer (my hands get cracked in winter which is painful). I also confess to carrying a hot water bottle around with me in the daytime and popping it behind the lower back area when sitting. My friends now accept this as ‘normal’. 😉
Yes, Percy’s tips definitely conjured an interesting, shall I say, image in my mind! Good tips too, Cathy,and the hot water bottle seems totally normal, in fact a little bit dull, in comparison! 😀
Very good point about the thin cotton pharmacy gloves – They’re so much more convenient for typing and doing other fiddlywork in than most things are.
I’m pretty much resigned to looking like a budget version of Frank N Furter all winter, but at least I’m warm. I’m convinced that some of the problem of coldness at this end of the poverty scale is the problem of keeping up appearances – Think of George Orwell in Down And Out In Paris And London, where he’s buying whole loaves of bread and tins of things, to try to keep up the facade of having somewhere to cook, even though he could save his money by eating bread and scrape. It takes a lot of gumption to say “I don’t care if I look like a tit, I’m wearing two waistcoats today and a wooly hat, indoors.” when every instinct is saying “Someone is visiting later, I need to put the fire on in the room they’ll be in and dress smartly, even if that means being cold in the rest of the house, so that they don’t know that I’m on the verge of penury”.
Another tip if you’ve got the hand strength for it – Keeping the hands moving all the time, even if you’re not doing something useful, stops them from getting too cold and stiff. I do little hand-sewing or sculpting projects when feeling healthy (Kneading clay really keeps the circulation up, above and beyond all else) and play with a stress ball or set of baoding balls when not, or when I’m out and about and need something that can be easily stowed in a pocket. Even just clicking your fingers, clenching your fists in time to music, or rubbing your hands every few minutes, can help.
Plus, if your chosen faff is something like crochet, you can end up making yourself a nice warm pair of gloves in the process.
Yes it might be a good idea but keeping my hands moving and doing fine motor movements makes them puffy and very painful so it’s difficult to counteract the Reynaud’s poor circulation with movement. So I have to ration typing, crocheting etc. Might give the thin gloves a go though.
I gave up keeping up appearances a long time ago so whatever works, even if it looks ridiculous, is the priority over looking cool!
Uniqlo thermals are not too expensive, wash incredibly well and don’t smell or feel weird 🙂 They are in my opinion low coast alternative to merino, and unlike posh outdoor synthetic thermals, don’t go smelly.
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Thanks, yes I use my old cycling base layer, as it’s obviously now redundant from its original purpose!
Great post, Emily. Thanks so much for mentioning the Warm Home Discount Scheme in particular. I hadn’t heard of it but I’m going to investigate it. I’m so broke just now that I can’t use my heating at all.
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Nobody should be in your situation in our country. It’s disgraceful. I’m the same though I got the discount last year and it really helped. It shouldn’t feel like we’re splashing out to put the heating on, especially being ill. I definitely recommend the discount and hope you’re successful in your application for it. Incidentally, last year I didn’t receive a letter to say I’d been credited with it, it just appeared as a credit on my account, so when you’ve applied, keep checking with your energy supplier to see if they’ve received it yet. This is easy to do if you have online access to your account. Last year they paid it in December which was good. Thanks for your comment and I like to read your blog posts too.
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My dog is cuddling up to me at the moment and keeping me warm (she’s not just a living hot water bottle though!). A laptop on the knee often keeps me warm in the afternoon. Electric blankets are pretty cheap per hour. Been looking on Ebay today for real wool jumpers, acrylic only looks like a jumper but doesn’t do a jumper’s job.
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