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, known well to our own Senior Staffing Specialist Natalie Chandler, 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 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? We spoke to Natalie at South Shore Staffing for some tips that she uses, as well as some other ideas that may be of help for you or your co-workers.
Use a small space heater to warm up your immediate surroundings
Natalie tucks a small electric space heater under her desk to keep the temperature in her office space comfortable year-round, as air conditioning can also exacerbate Raynaud’s as much as 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
This seems obvious but often employees will 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! Look for 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 or drugstores carry inexpensive, single-use hand warmers that are either cracked or shaken to activate the warming agents inside. Or if you want something you can use again and again, purchase an affordable and rechargeable hand warmer that looks a lot like a cell phone battery pack (and can sometimes be used to charge your phone as well!)
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. Women may have more options in this department than men, but there are plenty of nicely tailored scarves and sweaters in wool or cashmere that men can wear in the office as well.
Keep your face mask on
One unique accessory of 2020 is a face mask which can also work to 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 each day 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 year round, 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. Since many offices may have done away with communal coffee or tea stations due to Covid-19 cross-contamination concerns, consider investing in a small electric kettle for your office so you can boil water at any time of the work day.
Finally, if possible, get up from your desk every hour or so and do some light exercise to get the blood flowing. Consider walking stairs instead of taking the elevator. Move from side to side and swing your arms in wide circles can help move blood to your hands. Please note that some exercise can actually worsen Raynaud’s, so proceed with caution.
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.