Well, yes, it's boring-already, this super-frozen, below-average temperature winter we're 'enjoying', here in the UK. Bah! But no point in wallowing in the gloom - not all the time, anyway - so I thought I'd let you into the secrets of some of my helpful companions.
I first discovered the wonders of French homeopathic remedy L52, (a small brown bottle of tincture made by Lehning and sold in French - and some Italian - pharmacies, for about €6.50) a few years back. If you're surrounded by sniffers and coughers, it's advisable to inhale a few drops sprinkled onto a clean hanky or tissue, at regular intervals - to stop their germs invading you. I often use it when I'm flying (on a 'plane, in case you're wondering...) Alternately, if I sense that I'm already succumbing, or have succumbed, to a 'flu-type infection or bad cold, I'll try halting the progress of the bug by taking 40 drops - as soon as possible - in about 15mls water. Then I'll reduce the dose to 20-25 drops, every few hours.
My Christmas spice tea (see earlier post) contains two perfect cold weather bug-fighting partners (ginger and cinnamon) however, for a ready-blend, there are decent ginger-spice, or ginger and lemon, teas available from health food stores and some supermarkets.
Ginger and black pepper essential oils are brilliantly warming, so I'll sometimes sprinkle just a couple of drops into a warm bath. They need to be used super-sparingly, though, as they're very potent and can cause skin irritation on broken or very sensitive skin. (If you're in any doubt about using essential oils - for instance when you're pregnant or if you have epilepsy - you should contact a registered aromatherapist, prior to purchase).
I'm also a big fan of a Chinese herbal tincture - astragalus - which can prove an ally and bolster immune defences against rampant seasonal infections. In the UK, I tend to buy it from Neals Yard Remedies. Periodically - when I feel I need it - I'll take 10-20 drops in a little water, a few times a day. (Especially when I can't get supplies of L52).
If I'm out and rushing-about, I'll try to ensure I have a small pack of antiseptic wipes in my handbag; when I use crowded public transport or, if I'm in a busy shop, I'll use one when required...
I love wearing lots of (fine) layers, too; earlier this winter, I found some well-priced relatively-stylish examples at Japanese high street favourite, Uniqlo.
When my hair starts to protest against the chill (other than the obvious idea of wearing a cute/warm beanie hat) I'll use an ionic dryer, or styler, and a good styling product to keep pesky static fly-aways to a minimum.
I try to keep central heating down (excessive use is not so great for the skin, hair or bank balance) although I will use it to stop me freezing completely(!)
When I have the time, I'll chill-out and warm-up by creating delicious home-made soups. One of my favourite stand-by stalwarts comes from Atari-Ya - a Japanese ingredient and sushi store - perfect portion-sized sachets of miso with seaweed. They enhance the flavour of a broth or hearty soup wonderfully, without the need for (lots of) salt. I just ran-out, today, of some excellent packet soup (not a phrase I though I'd ever utter) that I brought in Catania. Knorr Pasta Fagioli, a super-hearty (and surprisingly additive-free) bean, tomato and (micro)pasta soup. Of course, it's possible to make your own from scratch, when time is on your side, (red onion, tinned tomatoes, borlotti beans, tiny pasta shapes, chili flakes, thyme and olive oil will do the trick, deliciously).
Not to forget the at-home slipper booties and that fuddy-duddy, old-faithful hot-water bottle...
Disclaimer: Although I used to edit a complementary health magazine, please note that I'm telling you about my favourite cold weather 'allies', not prescribing them specifically for you. If in any doubt about whether they're right for your needs, you should always consult a health professional prior to purchase or use.
PS The photo shows a favourite riverside walk, wonderful in the winter sunshine, by Richmond Bridge.