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Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

, Gawker Media

Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

Winter is back, and it's colder than ever. Coupled with snow, dry air, sickness, and everything else that comes with winter, it's shaping up to be pretty rough. Here are 10 ways to keep yourself sane during this bleak season.

10. Stay Active, Even in the Cold

Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

Most of us tend to hole ourselves up in the winter, which means lots more couch potato-ing-especially if you're used to exercising outside. That means to stay fit and healthy, you should try twice as hard to stay active as you do during the summer. Luckily, you have a lot of options, from running to skiing or even biking. You can even keep exercising when you have a cold, though if your symptoms are below the neck, you should probably take a break (see tip #3 below).

9. Beat the Winter Blues

Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

Winter isn't exactly the happiest of seasons, whether you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or not. Focus on all the positive things about winter to get yourself psyched, and soak up as much natural sunlight as you can. Make sure you take extra special care if you work from home, too, which can make winter's depressing effects even worse.

8. Drive Safely in the Snow

Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

Snow may be pretty when it's falling, but as soon as you have to drive somewhere, it becomes your worst enemy. Make sure your car is prepared for winter so you avoid any technical issues, then brush up on your winter driving skills. Know which streets are plowed, brake before you turn, and keep a healthy amount of space between you and the car in front of you. You might want to stock your car with a few useful items too, like cooking spray for frozen doors, or kitty litter in case you get stuck (though floor mats may work in a pinch). Park facing east if you can to defrost your windshield, too.

7. Use Your Thermostat Wisely

You may be tempted to crank up the thermostat in the winter, but this can be costly-and unnecessarily so! A programmable (or even smart) thermostat can help a lot, but you can also drop your thermostat gradually to help you get used to slightly colder temperatures. If you're in a hotel, this trick will help you override the thermostat's built-in limits, too. Make sure your home isn't necessarily leaking heat, though-see tips #2 and #1 below for more information on that.

6. Avoid Dry Eyes, Skin, and Static Shocks

Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

Cold temperatures and snowy weather may seem like winter's biggest downers, but the dry air can also cause lots of annoyances. Your skin and eyes will probably be a lot drier in the winter months, so make sure you take extra care of them. Cover up your face and eyes, use a good moisturizer, and get a good humidifier if your house is feeling a little dry. It should also help with those static shocks, too.

5. Prepare for Storms

Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

Every year it seems like there's another "snowpocalypse" or "stormageddon" that's going to bury us all until spring, but in reality, it's usually just a few big snows every year. Still, you should be ready for anything, whether it's something simple like a cancelled flight or something worse like losing power or getting snowed in entirely. Put together an emergency kit for your home and your car, and keep everything well charged. If you do lose power, you can still stay productive-you just have to prepare for it.

4. Take an Off-Season Vacation

Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

The most obvious advice is if it's too cold where you live, go somewhere else. So why not take a little off-season vacation? Ski resorts may be popular in the winter, but if you go somewhere warmer-even if it's just a little warmer-you might be able to get a great deal in the off-season. Check out something like TripStarter to see where you'll find the best winter deals on a getaway. It doesn't have to be that long, either-even a 10-day reprieve will help you relax.

3. Stay Healthy and Avoid Sickness

Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

Cold weather may not directly cause colds, but cold season is definitely in full swing. You don't have to hole yourself up to avoid getting sick, you just need to take a little extra care: get a good amount of sleep, wash your hands often, and stay active (see #10). If you do end up getting a cold, we've got a guide to help you survive it, too.

2. Keep the Heat Inside Your Home

Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

Depending on where you live, you'll probably need some sort of heat to survive the winter. But heat costs money, so make sure you aren't wasting it on heat that's escaping through the cracks. Check the most common places heat is escaping, and insulate them if you can (even bubble wrap will work). Run your ceiling fans clockwise to keep the heat circulating downward, and eliminate drafts to keep everything nice and toasty.

1. Heat Yourself Instead of the Entire House

Top 10 Ways to Survive the Cold, Harsh Winter

Lastly, remember: heating yourself is more efficient than heating your entire home (especially if you live alone). Prepare your body for winter, seal off any unused rooms, and consider a space heater (like this one) to save a little on heating costs. It's amazing what a good pair of socks or slippers will do.

Images by Everett Collection (Shutterstock), r.g-s, Rob Boudon, BJ Carter, Mandolin Davis, Edyta Pawlowska, and Andrew Vargas.

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