If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from Raynaud’s, you don’t need to look at the calendar to know cold weather is coming. The effects of this condition become evident the minute the temperature starts to take a dive.
And with October marking Raynaud’s Awareness Month, this is a great time to go through a quick list of things you can do to deal with the painful side effects of Raynaud’s in the office. And if you are an employer, please read for tips on how you might be able to make the office more comfortable for any of your employees who may suffer from this.
First of all, what is Raynaud’s? Raynaud’s is a disorder of the small blood vessels in a person’s extremities. This disorder reduces blood flow to those areas and can be found in people with no underlying conditions whatsoever, as well as people with other health issues. Those with Raynaud’s suffer from an exaggerated sensitivity to cold temperatures. Blood vessels can go into spasms which can cause pain, numbness, and tingling. Fingers and toes may turn white or blue and literally throb from the cold.
So how does one mitigate the effects of Raynaud’s in the office when they aren’t in charge of the building’s thermostat and have to be able to perform office duties efficiently? Keep reading for some tips that may be of help for you or your co-workers.
Use a small space heater to warm up your immediate surroundings
Tuck a small electric space heater under your desk to keep the temperature in your office space comfortable year-round, as air conditioning can also exacerbate Raynaud’s as much as the winter air. Just take care that you keep clothing and papers away from the heater and turn it off when you leave the office.
Wear gloves and warm socks
Don’t sacrifice comfort for style. Look for well-made warm gloves and socks of thin, solid-colored materials so you don’t feel like you’re getting dressed up to go play in the snow! Choose gloves that can be used on the touchscreen of a computer or phone, or find fingerless gloves with a flap that can be folded over your fingertips when you need to warm up your hands.
Carry hand warmers in your bag or laptop case
Sports stores, as well as gas stations and drugstores, carry inexpensive, single-use hand warmers that are either cracked or shaken to activate the warming agents inside. If you want a solution that you can use again and again, consider an affordable and rechargeable hand warmer. It looks a lot like a cell phone battery pack and many models can actually be used to charge your phone!
Choose headphones with better coverage
If you wear a headset at the office, consider getting headphones that fully cover the outside of your ears instead of an earpiece version. The soft cushioning found in well-made headphones will help trap heat around your ears while you work.
Wrap up in a scarf, shawl, or sweater
Don’t leave home without a stylish, yet warm, scarf, shawl, or sweater that will help warm up your core. Or consider purchasing a rechargeable heated vest that delivers heat right to your core.
Keep your face mask on
One unique accessory of our times is a face mask which can also help keep the tip of your nose warm! Wear that mask even if you’re alone in your office, and your breath will help keep your face warm. However, you may want to bring a couple of clean masks to the office so that you can change them if they get damp or soiled.
Put on the kettle
Though you may love iced beverages all year, you will keep your hands and body warmer if you learn to sip hot beverages like tea, coffee, cocoa, or even broth from an insulated mug during the day. Consider investing in a small electric kettle for your office so you can boil water at any time of the workday.
Finally, if possible, get up from your desk every hour or so and do some light exercise to get the blood flowing. Consider walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Moving from side to side and swinging your arms in wide circles can help move blood to your hands. Please note that some exercise can actually worsen Raynaud’s, so find what works for you.
For more information on dealing with Raynaud’s, or on how to best support your employees who suffer from it, please check out the Raynaud’s Association website.
Originally published in 2020 and updated in 2021.