5 Tips on How to Survive Winter in London in Your First Year

Seasonal changes, mood swings and common cold comes hand in hand. As the bright sun peace out, and go on its annual work hour adjustment, we are left with darkness, bitter cold weather, unpredictable rain/hail/wind pattern and sometimes glimpse of frost & snow.

Working in corporate previously, I always blamed my illnesses on the fact that I was stuck in an enclosed space with no open air. As workers get hit by cold/flu, their germs & viruses circulates, then bounces off one another. The kicker is, I never guessed I would get this ill when I landed in London.

Nov 16, it’s been exactly 1 year since I lived in the UK. On the exact same day this year, I reflect on the things I’ve done & accomplished and note to self— “Good Job, You Survived the First Year.” Some say that the first year of living in a new country, your body is adapting.

I remember saying to a wise friend of mine that day, “I can’t believe it! It’s been exactly one year since I set foot in Europe. I’m still unbelievably ill from the flu after 2 weeks (i.e. sleeps all day, heavily medicated & cannot function at all), I am still doing a lot of pro bono work & I am still frustrated. Maybe it is time to peace out back to happy Vancouver”.

To be fair, I did fly around 6 times in the past month or so, and also continued working (i.e. taking the tube, working events with a lot of people, and networking excessively). For the past week, I logged out of FB, as my body & head hurts like I got beat up. I was useless, I can’t get out of bed, I can’t even open my eyes. The only reason why I will get up, is because I was coughing. Coughing so bad that I thought my organs will fall out, or my eyes might come out of the sockets from the pressure. My diaphragm & rib cage are sore, my eyes are usually burning and my nose and surrounding skin are just destroyed. I have to spray floral water to my kleenex or vaseline my nose before I can blow into the tissue. -.- FML

Based on my first year experience, here are some tips to help you survive your first year in London:

1) Bundle Up

“Cover your neck”. No joke, I just got off FT with my dad & grandma, and they lectured me for 1 hour about dressing warm but most importantly, wear scarves or turtleneck or anything that covers your airways. They said: “I see you, you are wearing a sweater, but your neck is showing. That is exactly why you are always sick”. -.-

Yes, I agree that we should dress like an eskimo. I love scarves and layering. The only problem is, if you are a frequent tube rider, then you will know that the moment you get inside that massive metal germ box, you will either pass out from your super warm layers, or you will have to carry your bulky jackets & squash your way through the sardine can.

Tips: Bring a cloth bag that go over your shoulder (you know, the ones with giant logos on them for groceries), you can fit all your stuff inside and they will be easily accessible. Also provide a bubble separating you with the other germy folks around you. Oh, and wear a scarf or infinity scarf. COVER YOUR NECK!

2) Hibernate

When it is miserable out, your Will power to head out once you are inside your house diminishes to zero. Hack, some Londoners are not even willing to go the extra mile and cross the river… So brace yourself and prepare indoor activities. You can either take on a new hobby (I’m going to revisit knitting or finally learn the ukulele), watch Netflix, read, cook… you get the idea

Tips: The radiator & heaters are likely on full blast, so don’t forget to have a vase of water in your room, to balance out the humidity (best if the moisture get sucked from the vase then your body).

3) Load Up on Remedies

I’m a fan of Tylenol Cold but then in London, the go to brand is Lemsip. Same kind of thing, but Lemsip is the #1 cold &flu brand in the UK.

Honey Lemon Ginger Tea is also a great remedy. I haven’t tried to add booze yet but apparently, adding whisky also does the trick.

Tips: I like to add cayenne pepper, lemongrass to my honey lemon ginger tea, to give it an extra kick. I also recommend keeping a few essential oils handy: Peppermint oil, Thieves oil, Eucalyptus oil (to name a few, here’s a list here.)

4) The Winter Diet

I love soups & noodles. It warms the body & soul. For me, the go to is vermicelli/Marconi soup or congee, or chicken noodle soup loaded with veggies, shrooms, and other good stuff.

I recently learned how to make creamy (non dairy) blended soup (Thanks Google Campus/Dose Cafe, that’s where I learned how to make them), and it was magical. My fav is the Spicy Carrot & Butternut Squash soup. It is the best. I like to modify mine and add ginger, garlic, excessive amount of coriander, parsley, sweet potato, & other stuff I can find at home.

Tips: Make them ahead of time, & store them in individual size containers, so you can freeze them & pop them in the microwave. You’re welcome! (you will understand when you are so sick you can’t get out of bed. You remembered your healthy self was SMART & hid the secret stash in the freezer. True story!)

5) Work Out!

Remember to Stretch! Better yet, do some cardio or low impact exercises. ANYTHING active helps. TBH, I have been horrible with my exercise routine. Perhaps that’s why my health gone down the drain. I walk a lot though, when I can, does that count?

Tips: Check out exercise videos (PIYO, Focus T25 or go beast with Insanity) you can do them at home or simple Deskercise to do in the office.

Well, there you have it. That’s how I survived my first year.