How I survive winter without frostbite, fractures or a massive heating bill

Winter can be hard for freelancers. You could slip on ice and break your wrist, spend months freezing your butt off or end up sobbing over a massive heating bill. But there’s no need to worry about staying safe and warm this winter because I have some fail-proof ways to get through it without succumbing to frostbite or fractures.

Ways Virtual Assistants can stay warm in winter

With energy prices through the roof, here are a few simple ways I keep warm without spanking the central heating or wearing every item I own:

~ I close the door and just heat the room I’m working in – and I always try to work in the sunniest room.

~ I place an old-school draught excluder in front of the main doorway to my house and a double-sided one on the hall door.

~ I am the base layer queen. I have a thin LAPASA merino wool underwear set and a thicker Helly Hanson LIFA, stay-dry top with go-faster stripes down the sleeves. It actually looks great on its own.

When I walk my dog, instead of wearing jeans (which just make your legs even colder), I wear thermal woolly tights underneath trackie bottoms. They’re thin and light but spectacularly warm.

~ I put lambswool innersoles inside my shoes when I go out. They’re not expensive and make a massive difference to how warm my feet are.

I buy some for my Mum too as she’s always complaining that her feet are cold.

~ I wear a fleece neck gaiter and long fingerless gloves from Turtle Doves. The gloves were not cheap but they’re cashmere and are soft as a kitten. I’ve bought these for a few friends and every year they mention how amazing they are.

~ I wear thick fleece-lined knee socks. Although, tbh I wear knee socks for around seven months of the year because I hate being cold.

~ I take regular breaks and do a few star jumps, lunges and squats. Freelancers can be pretty immobile and I’m lazy AF so any extra movement is a bonus.

My house feels like Greenland at times but when I’ve gone to the shop (for bread and not Maltesers you understand), I’ve discovered that it’s not that cold at all, it’s just that I’ve been sitting still so long it just feels cold.

~ I have a wheat-filled, wraparound neck warmer that my chiropractor recommended. You pop it in the microwave for a few minutes then velcro it around your neck and shoulders.

People will mock you when they are first confronted with this item but they will try it on and refuse to give it back. They no longer sell the neck warmer I own, but there are many others online.

~ Extreme weather calls for extreme measures and sometimes only an incredibly strokable, faux fur hot water bottle on my lap or under my feet will do. I’ve also got a long snakelike hot water bottle which is ingenious.

How not to fall and break your wrist

It doesn’t often snow here but occasionally we do get hit with a ton of it which immediately compacts, freezes over and turns into a hard, skiddy death trap.

When you slip your immediate reaction is to put your hands out to break your fall… but freelancers simply cannot afford to break their wrists.

But I no longer worry about that happening.

A few years back, a ton of snow fell in Brighton where I used to live. At first, I simply didn’t leave the house and just watched people crawling over the ice on their hands and knees (I’m not even joking) at the intersection.

But then I discovered Blackspur rubber overshoes and my life changed forever.

Once you’ve hooked them over your wellies or trainers you can run full-pelt on the ice or snow and not fall over. You do make a fun-sounding clip-clop noise when you enter a shop, but it’s a small price to pay for not breaking any bones.

In fact, I thought they were so good that I bought some for my Dad so I didn’t have to worry about him slipping over in the mud when he took the dogs for a walk in the woods.

He never remembers to wear them, of course, but that’s beside the point.

My secret weapon

I also use a Vicks nasal spray called First Defence when I feel a cold coming on. I kid you not, this stuff is phenomenal.

A friend recommended it to me so one day as I felt a cold coming on just as I was just about to leave to spend the weekend with my parents, I bought some to see if it would help.

I felt awful and on the train, I started to feel worse and worse. I remember leaning my head against the window wondering whether I should just go home instead.

By the time I arrived at my folks my head hurt, my neck hurt and even my teeth hurt.

But I kept snorting First Defence (even though it’s truly disgusting and I was suspicious of the hype) every few hours and when I woke up in the morning I was right as rain. There wasn’t even a HINT of cold!

First Defence works like witchcraft, I tell you. 


Being cold sucks and, while I know some of this stuff might sound obvious, a lot of it was trial and error for me. It’s far too easy to just whack the heating up but you’ll definitely feel remorseful when the bill arrives.

Obviously, you could also just put on another jumper and sit with your back up against the radiator, but these other things I have mentioned have made such a big difference that I wanted to share them with you.

Over to you

Your turn. What tips do you have for staying toasty and safe in the cold weather without turning the heating up to tropical, wrapping yourself in a duvet or wearing an eye-bleedingly hideous slanket?

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I have the grips for my shoes and I knit finger-less mittens too! I can also recommend a small lap dog..although he does get in the way of typing a bit!!

Finally I have an insurance policy that covers me in case I have an accident and break something, it pays out in case I am in hospital overnight too.


hahaha! Jo once again you’re on the money with what I need and when.
The Pomodoro Technique is awesome, I’m loving using it. I can believe the difference in my concentration. Also, I had never though about lambswool insoles but it looks like I shall be investing in them.

Thanks as always x

Joanne Munro

You’re welcome. The innersoles get worn down quite quickly but they’re really cheap and stop the cold coming through the soles of your shoes. The difference is remarkable actually.


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