How to keep warm for less this winter

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A recent study revealed that living in a cold home can increase the risk of poor mental health. We take a look at why this is and share some tips for staying warm for less this winter

How to keep warm for less this winter

Energy prices have caused a stir for years but none more so than during the current cost of living crisis. We know that living in colder temperatures can affect our physical health as it lowers our immune response, but new research from The Conversation suggests it poses a significant risk to our mental health, too.

As Britain sits in the temperature climate zone, we don’t typically experience extreme changes in the weather and our temperatures remain fairly mild throughout the year. Despite this, the UK has higher deaths associated with colder weather than many other colder countries which is thought to be the result of poor quality housing, poverty, and the increasing costs of heating our homes.


How does the cold affect our mental health?

In recent months, we’ve seen the impact that the cost of living crisis is having on our energy bills. As we head towards winter, our heating bills will likely exacerbate feelings of stress and financial worries. In 2018, the average cost of heating a UK home was £453.24 which has since risen significantly.

Not only can this financial uncertainty create anxiety, but also feelings of being out of control of our own environment. People might avoid socialising to climb into bed early to keep warm or may simply be exhausted from draining their body’s energy for warmth. This can contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Sadly, for those who may already be experiencing poor mental health, the risks are often more severe and this does not consider the impact across the wider population - those who are unemployed or on lower incomes are more likely to live in a colder home, as well as single parents and those who rent.

For those currently working from home, the choice between heading back into the office or staying put offers little comfort as commuting also comes with its fair share of costs.


How can we heat our homes for less?

In light of the current energy crisis, here are some tips for keeping warm for little to no cost.

1. Make use of curtains

During the day, make sure you open curtains or blinds to let as much natural sunlight into your home as possible. This is a great way to heat your home for free. When it starts to get dark, draw your curtains and this will trap the heat as well as provide an extra layer of insulation.

2. Rejig your furniture

Take a look around your home and note any furniture that could be blocking radiators. If possible, try moving your furniture away from the heat source to allow the warm air to flow more freely around your room.

3. Locate and block out draughts

If you’ve noticed a chill from your front door, around your windows, or coming from a crack in the floor, now is the best time to draught-proof your home before winter firmly sets in. You can Read more

10 tips for exercising in cold weather

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Sharing tips for exercising in cold weather, benefits, and sample cold weather workouts. 

Hi friends! How’s the morning going so far? I hope you’re having a great day. I’m getting in a quick Fit Team workout and getting ready for some out-of-town company; I can’t wait! I’m also going to take Maisey on a long walk because the weather has been dreeeeamy.

Even though the weather is starting to cool down, I’ve been thinking abut how important to keep up with a consistent routine, no matter the season. Cold weather can discourage us from working out, especially because it’s dark and can be verryyyy tempting to stay snuggled under the blankets. It can absolutely be a challenge to get up and head outside to work out, or to the gym, and finding the right motivation and routine can help you stay focused on your goals. Today, I’m sharing some practical tips on how to stay warm and injury-free while working out in the cold weather!

10 Tips for exercising in cold weather

Can you work out in cold weather?

You absolutely can, but it depends on your fitness level and if you’re used to the current climate. If you’re in Arizona like me and travel to Alaska in the freezing snow, it might be a little trickier to keep up with your outdoor workout routine. Of course, check with your doctor before making any fitness changes, and talk to your health provider if you have certain conditions that may prevent you from working out outdoors.

Some tips that may help:

Dress in layers

I like to layer my clothes, especially since the temperature fluctuates so much. You may start off with a jacket, long-sleeved tee, and tank, and end up just in your tank top by the time the workout is over. You can also wear high socks if you don’t want to start off with pants. I feel like layers is something you learn over time, especially what types of fabrics and coverage you prefer, and also how the weather behaves where you’re located. In Tucson, it’s winter at 5am, spring at 10am, summer at 2pm, back to spring at 5pm, and winter again by 8pm.

Wear sunscreen

Even if you’re cold, you may forget that being outdoors is still exposing you to the sun’s rays. Wear sunscreen on any areas that are likely to burn, especially if you’ll be out for a while. I wear this SPF on my face every single day.

Stay hydrated

The same thing goes with water! In the winter, it’s more easy to become dehydrated, because our sweat and the heat isn’t reminding us to drink water. Be sure to carry some type of water with you, and if you’re going to be doing a challenging or longer workout (greater than 1 hour), I recommend adding some electrolytes.

Wear the right gear

Extra goods, like an ear warmer, thermal leggings, and gloves can make a huge difference. You may also have to add an e

Sausage Gravy

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You know those foods that you taste once and then you simply can’t get it out of your mind? This Sausage Gravy is one of those foods.

You’ll find yourself remembering it (and craving it again!) at all hours of the day. The hints of fragrant rosemary add something unforgettable, many people have told me this immediately became their all-time favorite gravy.

Rosemary Sausage Gravy Recipe - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Easy Sausage Gravy

Would you like the secret behind making the best sausage gravy you’ll ever taste? It’s that little sprinkling of rosemary. After tasting a rosemary sausage gravy at a restaurant, I started adding rosemary to my gravy when I made it.

That little herb addition takes a simple old-fashioned recipe for biscuits and gravy from being something that we enjoy eating to the level of being something that I crave on a regular basis.

This rich, creamy sausage gravy recipe is the heart of one of my favorite “brinners” – breakfasts that we eat for dinner; although this gravy is always a hit for breakfast as well.

Sometimes we dunk toast sticks into the gravy or pour the gravy over hot biscuits. (I couldn’t resist sharing this video of my baby making biscuits for the first time.) Sausage Gravy is also heavenly over hash browns with an egg on top.

How To Make Sausage Gravy

Making a truly excellent sausage gravy is easier than you might think. Start with a sausage that you like. I typically use a country or breakfast sausage.

Crumble the sausage as it starts to cook in a large skillet. Once it has browned, sprinkle with flour and toss well to coat. Add the milk, salt, and pepper.

Let the gravy cook and thicken for about five minutes, while you stir frequently. Add the rosemary, taste the thickened gravy, and add additional salt and pepper only if needed. I will tell you this is one dish where extra pepper gives it tons of flavor!

My youngest son’s favorite breakfast for dinner is this Breakfast Poutine: crisp, hot fries and melting cheese curds topped with sausage gravy and a fried egg. What’s not to love?

How do hormones impact our skin health?

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Our hormones are responsible for a whole range of body functions – from your heart rate to the quality of your sleep. But did you know they can also impact your skin? Jenna Farmer chats to the experts to uncover the connection…

How do hormones impact our skin health?

While the hormones whizzing around our bodies can have some pretty powerful effects (whether that’s progesterone keeping your menstrual cycle in check, or adrenaline giving you a surge of energy in a ‘fight-or-flight’ situation), they don’t just impact what’s happening on the inside. Our skin, the body’s largest organ, can be affected too. Whether that’s due to stress making your skin look dull, or being more prone to blemishes at certain points in your cycle. Let’s take a look at some of the most common hormones that could impact your skin health.

Stress hormones

These can be particularly detrimental to our skin health, with studies showing more than 10 different kinds of conditions (such as acne or psoriasis) are closely linked to psychological problems. But why is this? Well, part of it is down to how we manage our stress.

Consultant dermatologist and founder of klira.skin, Dr Emma Craythorne explains: “Poor stress management can have a poor impact on the skin, because sometimes patients might scratch or pick at their skin or pull their hair out. They might over-focus on acne lesions and picking them can lead to scars or worsening of acne.”

Other conditions are more directly linked to stress hormones – when we release large amounts of cortisol (due to being super stressed for a long time), our skin can sometimes become much more oily than usual, which can trigger an eczema outbreak.

“Stress has multiple and wide-ranging physiological and clinical impacts on skin disease. There are skin conditions that are known to flare due to stress, such as eczema and psoriasis, and in these situations increased stress levels can make the disease much more severe,” adds Emma.

Menstrual cycle hormones

As well as stress hormones, the hormones responsible for your menstrual cycle – such as oestrogen and progesterone – can also impact your skin. However, it’s not all bad news. Nutritional therapist Aneequa Godart, explains: “Oestrogen, which is more prominent in the first half of your cycle, helps to stimulate collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid production in the skin, so you may notice that it is looking plump, hydrated, and clearer during the first 10–16 days.”

However, once we’ve ovulated, we may start to notice more skin issues. “Our levels of progesterone start to increase in the second half of our cycle, which can become more problematic for the skin as sebum production is stimulated so it becomes oilier, which can lead to blocked pores and breakouts,” adds Aneequa.

What’s more, when our female hormones are a bit off kilter (which may be a temporary blip or due to conditions such as PCOS; a common gynaecological condition that causes irregular periods) it can result in more long-term skin problems. For example, just under half of women wi

The power of joyful movement for anxiety

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Taking a multi-pronged approach to anxiety can be powerful. Here we explore how one of those prongs, exercise, can help us manage anxiety

The power of joyful movement for anxiety

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, you’ll probably know that it can trigger some intense physical reactions. There’s a certain energy about anxiety, to me it feels like I’m a shaken up can of soda, fizzing with fear.

Now, there are lots of techniques that can help anxiety. I’ve had cognitive behavioural therapy in the past, and I find both meditation and journaling helpful. When I am particularly fizzy however, there’s only one thing that really helps. Moving my body.

I’ll either put on some music and dance in my bedroom (not following any steps, just moving in a way that feels fun), go to a Pilates class or grab my towel and head to my local pool. There’s something oddly soothing about swimming; the gentle hum of fellow swimmers in the background, the comforting scent of chlorine and the way I can sync my breathing with my strokes. It makes the entire process a joy.

Intuitive movement advocate and personal trainer Tally Rye discusses the power of joyful movement on Happiful’s podcast I am. I have.

When I’m done with these activities, it’s like the anxiety, or fizz, has been released and my body can settle again. The idea that exercise is good for our mental health isn’t a new one, but its true power continues to be explored.

A new study being carried out by academics from University College London will see NHS mental health trusts using ‘social prescribing’ to encourage 600 young people on waiting lists to take part in dance, music, sport and exercise. The study will look at how this supports mental wellbeing and, if successful, could see more activities being made available for those on waiting lists.

While it’s been acknowledged that these activities are no substitute for other forms of support like talking therapies, it can help people cope with challenges, especially if waiting for treatment. So what is it about exercise, and joyful movement especially, that’s so helpful for anxiety?


It puts you in the here and now

This is what I most love about the activities I do. Whether spinning with arms outstretched at home, engaging my core in a Pilates move or gliding through the water at the pool, I am present. I am in my body, not my head. Sure, the odd anxious thought might pop into my head from time to time, but because I’m physically moving I find it easier to move my attention back to that.

Anxiety often pushes our attention to the past (ruminating about something we’ve done or said) or the future (worrying about what might happen), so anything that can bring us back to the present moment can help.  

It re

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