Older, Slower, Colder, More Lonely
February 28, 2018 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Too cold, kind of slow, definitely older, and somewhat more lonely. Hive Mind, you helped me move to Europe. Can you help me settle in? Health/Coping/Adapting questions.

I moved to a few months ago, found a place to live, am seeing my family and friends from time to time. But it has been a real challenge because of the cold, because of vertigo, because of isolation, because of lack of exercise. I was out today in the -8 C weather and my skin was reddish when I got home and my face feels like it got a light sunburn or something. How do I take care of my oldster skin in this weather? (I have never had a skincare regime of any sort, btw, apart from occasional sunscreen. It's been really sunny if below freezing. Do I need sunscreen too?)

Also, I developed vertigo a month ago (had it 2 years ago and exercises made it disappear) and tried the Epley exercise once but can't motivate myself to do more of it (which is crazy!). Since just looking up at something can trigger the vertigo, I am reluctant to do a lot of walking, especially when it is so icy outdoors. Every time I try some simple yoga stretches at home, the vertigo gets triggered again, which makes me reluctant to do even that. The icy outdoors plus the vertigo make me reluctant to leave my place so I am spending way too much time under the blankets on my bed, even when I am working on deadline for a client.

I am super happy that I have moved and life is going smoothly overall. Gotta admit, however, that being a dizzy, sometimes-headachy lump with uncomfortable skin kind of sucks. It is isolating me from the friends I have already and preventing me from meeting new ones. Advice is welcome.
posted by Bella Donna to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Try a balaclava.
posted by brujita at 12:24 PM on February 28, 2018

Dress properly. Talk to friends who manage to stay warm about how they do so and then emulate them, do not skimp on the clothing necessary. This will be easy to do somewhere like Scandinavia, harder in somewhere like the uk where they complain rather than dress properly. I took this approach as an Australian in Denmark and grew to love the sub zero crispness of the world, impossible if I'd dressed like I would in my winter. It makes a huge difference.
posted by deadwax at 12:34 PM on February 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

Aquaphor is the absolute best for protecting skin from the cold. I coat my daughter in it before she plays in the snow and now her face doesn't come back inside covered with blotchy red patches.
posted by glitter at 12:39 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Cold air will make your skin feel red and tingly and dry. In the winter as you age you do need to use something to protect skin that's exposed. You can try different products; there's always the time-honored light coating of vaseline from my own childhood in northern New England. Now I use Nivea soft moisturizing creme. Apply whatever you use after you've washed your face.
posted by Gnella at 12:56 PM on February 28, 2018

I got serious about cold weather after living in northern Europe for a few years and dropped a bunch of cash on winter gear. Totally worth it. This February has been hard! I recommend: a coat that's not just heavy, but that's also long enough to cover your butt; layers, including long underwear or tights when wearing pants; thick socks; gloves and a hat. If your feet tend to get really cold, consider Uggs or other lined boots. If you ride a bike, wear gloves every time you do; it will save the skin on your hands.

I get salty about having to carry all this STUFF with me when it's cold, but in the end, I'm usually happy I did. I always carry a backpack or a big tote bag in the winter, so I can put things away neatly when I'm on the train or in a restaurant.

Definitely use sunscreen every day. I like Nivea Daily Essentials Sensitive Day Cream (which is SPF 15) plus a foundation with SPF. Slather up with moisturizer at night; I'm using L'Oreal Triple Action Night Cream right now, which is cheap and has helped me a lot this winter (however, it's quite strongly scented). I also like to put on a bunch of lip balm and hand lotion just before going to sleep so it can soak in overnight.

If you want to indulge in some slightly luxe skincare, a couple of products that you might be able to order online (since you're in Europe) are Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré, which is a fancypants skin cream that beauty gurus swear by, and Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm, which is a super-thick lip balm that smells like honey.
posted by neushoorn at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’ve been told Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder. (There's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.) I took that to heart and today I was dressed like the Michelin man about to rob a bank. Not much of my skin shows and though I happen to use Nivea soft like the poster above, I find it better to moisturize either long before going out or after coming back in to not have the water in the moisturizer freeze on my face.
posted by meijusa at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]

Can you go to a doctor to help you with the Epley Maneuver? There are two kinds. One for the horizontal passages in the cochlea and another for the vertical passages in the cochlea.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:21 PM on February 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

Regarding the vertigo--if you aren't near a physical therapist who specializes in vertigo treatment, look into a DizzyFix. It's a wearable guide that helps you do the Epley Maneuver more accurately. It's backed up with actual science, even though it looks like the most expensive "As Seen On TV" purchase you'll ever make. My partner has been dealing with intermittent but serious vertigo issues over the past year or two, and this thing helps him get through the worst episodes.
posted by Vervain at 1:31 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Definitely talk to locals to see what they wear; if you're new enough to the area that you don't feel comfortable asking for recommendations from someone you know, talk to people working in shops or cafés, particularly if they're oldsters as well.

I'm living in similar temperatures at the moment, and I see some people here bundled up in warm coats with hoods, with hats and scarves under them, so that if the wind kicks up it's easy to cover most of the face. Some wear heavy windproof jackets and pants over their street clothes; reminiscent of 'snow gear' if you're coming from the US. A 'snorkel parka' may be useful; I've not worn one but my understanding is the extra fabric extending out from the hood functions to warm the air a bit before it hits the face. (Less extreme versions are also fairly ubiquitous.)
posted by myotahapea at 1:54 PM on February 28, 2018

Yes, sunscreen! The worst sunburn I’ve ever seen was on my high school boyfriend after he spent a sunny day snowboarding without any. The sun reflects up off the snow, so it’s stronger than you think and you’re more exposed in odd places (the underside of your chin).
posted by jrobin276 at 2:08 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

February is the point where even the locals dream of living somewhere else.
Take heart! Winter is rough. By the time Spring (April this year, I fear...) comes around, you‘ll be spending more time in the gorgeous outside instead of being cooped up, socialising will be easier etc.
posted by Omnomnom at 9:26 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Canadian here. The cold is definitely something to be dealt with through appropriate, warm clothing. An “expensive” winter coat that makes you want to go outside and enjoy the crisp air is worth every cent. Also, they’ll usually last you many years (my previous coat kept me toasty 10ish years and I took little care of it).

I wanted to add to all of the great comments that Merino undergarments are fantastic. I have a few like these and it’s almost magical how warm they are (while being completely lightweight and super comfy). Just never, ever, ever wash them in hot water.

Otherwise, do not get Canada Goose coats. Mountain Hardwear and North Face are pretty great brands, amongst others.
posted by vert canard at 8:27 PM on March 1, 2018

It's the time of the year when days increase in length the most rapidly. In just three weeks time, there will be two hours more daylight than there is now, and sunset will also be two hours later. Over the next few weeks (only 16 or so days until the clocks go forward) busy yourself with all the jobs and admin and whatnot that needs to be done indoors, because if you leave them till later, you could be wasting valuable outdoors sunlight time. Oh, and if you haven't got some already, spend some of the last bits of winter obtaining thick full coverage curtains for your bedroom for when it starts getting bright at ridiculous o'clock.

So, hang on in there. It will not be long at all before you will be draping yourself across a beach or rock on an island in the Stockholm archipelago and wondering if this is the place ABBA composed their songs. Also, while it's still dark and cold out, talk to random nice people online and who knows; one may appear there (Stockholm is an irresistible draw in the summer) bearing gifts from afar.
posted by Wordshore at 5:03 PM on March 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

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