The Freedom Experiment

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Come Rain, Come Shine: 10 Key Items for your Winter Care Kit


A few days ago, I woke up with a fever.

My body ached, my head was heavy. And I didn't have a single aspirin or pain-killer in the house. I have no idea where my thermometer has ended up – I haven't seen it since before the move so it mist be in some of the boxes I have yet to unpack. And on top of it all, it was 3 am and I was wide awake. With nothing to do but lie in bed and think my depressive thoughts and feel sorry for myself.

Thanks to a good friend (check out her blog here) I didn't spend the entire night alone. We had a lovely chat, I went out for a therapy session in the morning – and with a lot of hard work – I was able to turn the nasty vicious circle I was in around. In retrospect, it's obvious that the circumstance of waking up ill could been a lot more pleasant if I had done a little planning ahead.

Since most of us are getting ready for winter (except you lucky antipodean and tropical friends) – here is a little something inspired by my recent retrospective wisdom. Hope you enjoy!


10 key items for your winter care kit


1. Painkillers and other medical supplies to ease your symptoms

The last thing you want to be left without when you're feeling under the weather is the proper medical equipment. While I'm personally not a huge fan of drugs (in any sense of the word...) I do see the point in having a few pills on hand to give relief to fevers and headaches. Think through your preferences and plan accordingly! A few handy tips are painkillers, nasal spray, couch syrup and similar aids. This can really make the difference between deathly ill (overstatement, but it feels that way!) and just a little tired. A thermometer is also a must!

2. Tea, coffee or a supply of hot chocolate and marshmallows

This point doesn't need much explanation – you want to have something warm to drink on hand to ease the chills and hydrate your body. If you're inclined to get dehydrated, you might want to stay off the coffee for now. Even though the last thing you might want to do is to pay attention to your body, try to listen within to see what you need. Sometimes a refreshing mint tea can be lovely – other times your body and mind might need something a bit stronger. Be gentle with yourself! A good way to brighten a rough day is to make sure you include some marshmallows and some hot chocolate powder in your care kit. This way you'll always have a treat ready for those challenging days when you feel particularly down.

3. A warm, wool blanket

This is another must. The reason why I recommend wool is that it breathes. This will be very helpful if you have a fever!

4. An unread book or audio book

One of the things that would really brighten my day is to have a special book reserved for those days when I'm ill and in bed. This way getting ill will feel more like a stroke of luck than a joke from the universe. It might be a good idea to make it an audio book, depending on your health and energy. If you need book recommendations look here and here and here.

5. A pre-written note of excuse

This is a little something I've come up with lately and it has been really helpful so far. Write a note where you apologize for not being able to answer e-mail, take calls, post blog posts or other responsibilities you normally have to do. Keep the note as a draft in your e-mail client or on your voice machine ready to publish when you start noticing the first signs of the flu. This will make you feel more relaxed, knowing that people won't worry or wonder why they don't hear from you for a few days. In addition, you'll feel less pressure on your shoulders! If you have a chronic illness (like me) this is really, really smart.

6. A little quick energy

When you are ill and your body is fighting – you need some good and fast fuel on hand. Especially if you have a stomach bug, it's a really good idea to have a little stack of fast nutrition in your care kit. Some good suggestions that are generally easy to keep down are liquid nutrition shakes (from the pharmacy), a cereal or snack bar, dried fruit and/or homemade soup (keep a box or two in the freezer).

7. An emergency supply of chocolate

Although chocolate is a great for some quick energy, this addition to the list is the most important to boost your morale and motivation. There's a reason why chocolate is a must-have on expeditions and hikes! Chocolate releases endorphins that will really help you feel better while your body is resting. Enjoy being sick – you now officially have the permission to eat as much chocolate as you like.

8. Comfortable clothing

This is your big opportunity to skimp on the good looks, so make sure you enjoy this to the fullest! Some good ideas here are sweatpants, pyjamas or even a one-piece. Just make sure it's something that you feel comfortable wearing, that will neither keep you too warm or too cold. Personally, I have a really comfortable cotton maxi dress from American Apparel that is super-comfortable, yet a little stylish too.

9. Good friends

This point is inspired by a recent post by Danielle LaPorte. Who do you call at 2 am when you're sick, tired, anxious and in need of some human connection and compassion? Who can you count on to come visit on just a few hours' notice? It can be really useful to think this through before you find yourself in need of a friend in the middle of the night. Maybe you can make a mutual agreement with a friend to be each other's 2-am-friends? In addition to good friends, you might want to turn to someone in your family if they live nearby. My point is – you don't want to figure this out when your heart is beating, your thoughts are fuzzy and your body is resisting your every move. Make a plan today!

10. A good medical emergency plan

In addition to a 2-am-friend – you need a list of phone numbers and addresses should you find yourself in the need of medical attention. If you live in a country where you are in need of insurance – do whatever you can to make sure you are covered! Either way, you need to know where to go, who to contact and what number to call. Write a little note and keep it in your wallet to make sure you always have it available.

What is in YOUR winter care kit?