Layers for Warmth:
My mom tells me her dad wore long johns from October through April. Since I broke my neck I find the best way to stay warm is layering. It is annoying when getting dressed and undressed to wrestle two shirts and a sweater or jacket, but it does work. An extra layer adds the insulation that keeps the chill out and the body heat in.
Head and Shoulders:
When I moved to Virginia three years ago I experienced real winter. East Texas and Southwest Florida have mild to warm climates. Below 60 degrees is cold for me. And wind? Don't get me started. So I was educated on the importance of protecting my head and shoulders. Dana bought a scarf, and it worked! It is cashmere and very nice. I also have scarves, including a homemade one from my grandma. With a beanie (or tooke, or sock hat, or toboggan), I keep my head and shoulders warm. My ears are my indicator. When they get cold, I am about to be uncomfortable.
I also use a rice wrap warmed in the microwave, but I also draw up my shoulders and my neck gets tight when I use it too much.
You ever wonder why your neck gets so tight in the cold? I found out it's because our nature is to draw up when uncomfortable and protect the vulnerable areas. Look above to keeping the head and shoulders covered. Through the day I also stretch a little more than in summer. Working over a computer is bad enough. Before fatigue sets in, I try to stretch a lot to keep relaxed. Check out yoga videos on YouTube for pointers.
At night I have a heating pad on my pillow. Even with all of my preemptive work, I take an hour to relax at night. My neck and shoulders are drawn up at first, but the stress melts away with the heating pad.
From the Inside Out:
Hydration is also extremely important. It's easier in the summer because I'm hot and thirsty, but in the winter I know I need to drink plenty of clear fluids too. Water is number one. When my body is hydrated my joints and muscles are less sore. My Camelback bottles keep me on track. Hot tea is excellent too. It warms me from the inside. Orange and lemon rinds make a good tea in hot water too.
Never underestimate Ibuprofen either. Pain killers can take the edge off.
These are my essentials. You have any other pointers to share?