Recently, I read an article which claimed that being cold can lead to loneliness.  

To be honest, this subject has cropped up in winters past, but I’ve tended to ignore it. This year though, I believe we should take it seriously.    

We’re experiencing very tough times. There’s considerable unrest in the country. We have a cost-of-living crisis. Covid is still around. It’s extremely cold, and there are many dire weather warnings for Christmas and beyond. All this is playing on our minds. So, we’re already vulnerable in terms of mood, and it wouldn’t take much for many individuals to plummet into a period of poor psychological health. We should also be mindful when the temperature drops of risks to the physical health of those with chronic illnesses, and I note that many support organisations, including the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK and Stroke Association, have information on their websites about keeping warm.   

Now, we all know we should be as active as possible and wrap up well in the winter. We’re also aware that social contact is cheering. But the trouble is that when we get really cold, we don’t think straight, and we find it hard to care for ourselves, and have little urge to communicate with others.    

It’s all too easy on a day when you’re feeling chilly and a bit low, to decide you won’t go out to the shops or to a planned coffee morning. And then the next day, to choose to stay home again. And the next. Before long, you’re not just cold but isolated – and loneliness will follow. It’s staggering how quickly we can spiral into a state where we’re not thinking or behaving normally and can feel increasingly alone and miserable. Unfortunately, getting out of that state of mind is a lengthier process.     

There’s ample research telling us that loneliness is as bad for us as smoking. We need to take notice of it, and to motivate ourselves into action. So, let’s think about maximising the opportunities we have to keep ourselves warm, and to be with people.   

Can you get together with five or six individuals and arrange to visit each other’s homes in rotation for lunch? Regular dates of this kind are uplifting, and while you’re in someone else’s warm space, you’re not having to heat your own. What about joining a book club or starting one? How about a creative afternoon with friends where you knit, crochet, draw, or whatever takes your fancy, and enjoy a good chat? Or could you stage a “bake off” in your kitchen? All these activities will keep you connected to others and raise your mood.  

There are also “Warm Rooms” popping up all over the place so people can meet each other in cosy locations. And in Suffolk there’s the Meet Up Mondays scheme. If you need help finding out what’s available near you, contact the Community Foundations in Norfolk ( or Suffolk (  Libraries too, are good sources of information.   

But obviously, you can’t be out all the time. And this year, many people who have never previously worried about heating bills are anxious about them. So, do investigate online advice about dealing with cash concerns while trying to keep warm. There’s excellent material, for example, on   

Meanwhile, let’s all use our common sense and come up with simple ways to help ourselves, such as:     

* Eating hot food two or three times daily and having plenty of hot drinks. 

* Dressing in layers of clothing. This is more effective than putting on one big, thick jumper. 

* Ensuring we don’t sit in one place for long periods. Instead, every hour, stand up, swing your arms about, and walk around. This will boost your body temperature. 

I remember once making a TV programme with my husband, aimed at pensioners, all about keeping warm in winter. To illustrate our advice, we dressed in thermal tops and long johns, and donned woollen hats, sheepskin gloves and fluffy slippers. Unfortunately, some of the viewers took exception to this, and decided we were being patronising to our elders and betters!  

Well, I’m now older than most of the people who complained back then, and even more convinced that keeping warm is a serious health issue. That being so, I may well end up looking like my younger self in that 1987 programme, because if keeping warm at home means hugging a hot water bottle, wearing a hat and gloves and wrapping a blanket around me while I read a book or watch TV, so be it. Far better to look mildly ridiculous than endure the misery of feeling cold – and fall ill as a result.  

We must take responsibility for our well-being this winter. This will require planning and effort, but do remember, we’re worth it.