How I transformed my relationship with the cold.

We clicked over into the first day of winter on Saturday.  In Victoria (Australia) you can definitely feel it in the mornings now: crispy breath, crispy car, crispy washing (note to self: do not leave washing out overnight).


I hate being cold.  The cold makes me curl up and tense up. 
  • The curling up makes me play small – it literally makes me physically smaller as I huddle into my own body for warmth. 
  • The tensing up makes me tired and sore and it even gives me a headache.  Sometimes I’d lie in bed losing so much heat my hair would wave around in the updraft!  I’d regularly go to bed with a beanie on (unsexy, I know)


Another unsexy cold habit is that I tend to stay in, and pig out.
  • Stay In – I can very happily stay in my house for days, Covid taught me that.  I’m a secret introvert you see, and the complete opposite of my husband who has to leave the house every single day for his own sanity (and can therefore fetch supplies so I don’t have to go out, another reason we work).
  • And with those supplies, I Pig Out – being cold gives me permission for more comfort food, more red wine, even some dessert (fuel for the cold, no?) – which all sounds great in theory, but after 3 months it risks becoming a year-round habit! 


If you suffer from the cold too, there’s some important things to know about that:
  • Tensing up? If you find that the cold makes your body rigid (nearly shivering all day will do that), then you’re doing static holds / isometrics ALL DAY.  It’s exhausting, and not good for you to do for a whole month at a time.
  • Curling up? If you’re cold in the office, you’ll find it affects your posture and your presence.  Women (in particular but not exclusively) often struggle with the average office temperature set at 21 Celsius, and it means they don’t have an expansive relaxed presence in the colder meeting rooms – which materially affects their leadership presence, their impact and their career prospects.
  • Staying in and pigging out? Well obviously less activity and more food is going to make you sluggish, and slows your blood flow which makes you feel even colder – keeping you trapped in the cycle of feeling the cold.


So what changed for me? 

In some ways, nothing has changed. For those of you trying to convince me otherwise, I am STILL not wild swimming, and I’m definitely not interested in ice-baths.  My youngest son does snow angels in his bathers and rubs himself with snowballs.  It’s something I just can’t comprehend.

In other ways, everything has changed.  I no longer tense up and curl up nor stay in and pig out.  In fact, I LOVE winter now.


How did it change?
I found out I was allergic to the cold.  

No, really, it’s legit.  I did a genetic DNA assessment with the amazing Alessandra Edwards which proves categorically that I will never be a fan of (and in fact might get quite unwell from) cold shocks like icebaths.  So if my physical reaction to the cold was never going to change, then I decided I’d have to change something else.


I changed my mindset towards the cold.  

I’m always banging on in my leadership programs that we need to focus on mindset before skillset.  And here I was, not taking my own advice.  My mindset towards winter was to hibernate, which is great for bears, and terrible for self-employed people.

Instead, I took a leaf out of Alfred Wainwright’s book Coast to Coast – well, 2 leaves actually:


“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”.  I think everyone knows that I like a bit of fashion, and that, as a Libran, I will often select beauty over practicality (the classic form over function pitfall) which means my wardrobe looks good but has the same insulation rating as a bikini.  

  • Enter The Coat of Requirement – this is my 3rd favourite thing in the entire world (my cats being 4th) This coat lets me stand happily in a snow storm.  I have used it as a sleeping bag.  Is it overkill for the Australian winter? Sure, yet it gets worn all winter long.  So I am not cold.

Get out in it.  Wainwright’s many books are about walking, which I dig, but there’s a few other things that are fast making winter my favourite season of the year – and stop me from hibernating to get out in it.

  • Winter parties.  I can simultaneously stay in and go out by hosting a backyard BBQ for the winter solstice.  Firepit, rugs and mulled wine anyone?
  • 2 kids that ski.  There’s nothing like a family sport that we are all passionate about and lets us spend days and days together, exercising, tech-free.
  • Weekly walks.  A waterproof coat, beanie and gloves are my staple.  Everything else is a layer that I can tie around my waist.  So yes, I can look like the michelin-man, but I am not cold. And you’ll be pleased to see the bed-beanie put to better use too.  


Physically or metaphorically, we all feel the cold at times.  There’s something – or someone – that makes us curl up, tense up, stay in or pig out.  It makes us play small, avoid risks, get sluggish, defensive, aggressive – stressed.  Hibernating doesn’t work.  Changing your mindset does.


Rebecca is Australia’s pre-eminent advocate for B-suite leadership – the expert in developing hi-impact B-Suite leadership at both a team and individual level.

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