[#AD – This post is sponsored by the wonderful humans at Heat Holders. Keep scrolling to find out more about some of my favourites, and use code PIPPA15 for 15% off your order!]
Autumn may be my favourite season, but it’s safe to say that autumn is not my body’s favourite season.
The colder months in the UK pose many challenges for people with ME/CFS and similar chronic illnesses, and one of the symptoms I really struggle to explain to others is my sensitivity to the cold. Even during the peak of the summer I can struggle to feel warm enough, and once even the slightest chill is detected by my body it’s practically game over. The only way I can think to explain it to others is to describe the feeling of being unplugged from a charger and feeling my body just… wilt.
Once I feel cold, it’s as though my entire system begins to shut down. My muscles and joints seize up, every one of my movements slow down, I struggle to form coherent thoughts and find the strength to voice them, even my eyes and ears seem to function at a reduced level. And once that sensation has begun, it takes hours or even days of endurance before things begin to ease; even with the temperature on full blast and wrapped in approximately 37552974 blankets. Such fun, right?
Living with this symptom is tough, and it’s one of those things that can be really difficult to verbalise in a way that others will understand. I have, however, just about made my peace with my difficulties during the colder months… and instead I’ve turned my attention to how to make these extra challenging times as safe and comfortable as possible.
As well as the more obvious adjustments, such as whacking on the heating and paying attention to my diet and circulation, I’ve come to realise that there’s no shame in donning specialist insulating clothing simply in day-to-day life… and that leads us nicely on to Heat Holders.
Funnily enough, I began using Heat Holders products right at the beginning of my chronic illness journey over a decade ago: back when I began struggling with the cold, but before I even knew this was a sign that I wasn’t well. With their specialist thermal yarn, loops and brushing properties, Heat Holders maximise the amount of warm air the garment can retain and hold this close to your body, with moisture breathing abilities among the soft thermal lining of the product. They’re cosy, effective, and the biggest bonus in my eyes is that they achieve all of these things whilst still feeling cute and stylish to wear.
Heat Holders have remained a staple part of my lifestyle ever since those early days, all the more so as my chronic illness has taken hold, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to share some of my favourite products with you in this post. If you can in any way relate to my difficulties with the cold, I really, really hope you find these recommendations helpful…
Starting with tights makes sense to me, since these were the very first Heat Holders products I remember trying way back in the day. On the outside, Heat Holders’ thermal tights and thermal footless tights look like any other pair that might be bundled in your wardrobe. I remember wearing them for school as part of my uniform, and as you can see from the image here, there’s nothing that identifies them as different from any other pair you might wear.
However, the quality and insulating capabilities of these tights are something else; completely incomparable to the thin fashion tights typically purchased and worn without a second thought. You can easily wear the tights as you typically would… but what I tend to do during the colder months is wear them underneath trousers and jeans as an additional layer. I’ve found that doing so is an absolute gamechanger in keeping me as warm as possible, especially when I’m out and about in my wheelchair.
Wearing Heat Holders’ socks feels like slipping your feet into an indulgent hot bubble bath. That’s it. That’s the review.
These socks come in a range of styles and patterns: Lites and Ultra-Lites to fit more comfortably under everyday shoes and boots, the Originals (again, which I’ve personally used for years), and the Merino Wool Blend range for more outdoorsy types… although I don’t mind telling you that I’ve worn mine for a highly adventurous trek in pursuit of biscuits from my local Sainsburys. You just can’t take too many precautions with those pesky freezer aisles.
There’s also a dreamy range of Slipper Socks: some with non-slip grippers on the bottom, some dual-layered designed to alleviate Raynaud’s symptoms, some with utterly majestic Snowmen on them that I simply can’t promise will be put away until Christmas time.
That said, my favourite socks by far are my new Sleep Socks – I have them in Lilac/Grey. I believe my exact words when slipping my toes into them for the first time were ‘OH MY GOODNESS IT FEELS LIKE MARSHMALLOW FOR MY FEET’ and I wholeheartedly stand by this statement. They may well be the softest, most indulgent garments I’ve ever owned, and they’ve been keeping even my own icy toes warm and cosy throughout these chillier evenings.
I don’t know why it never occurred to me to try Heat Holders’ gloves before now. As soon as I put them on, I was immediately filled with regret at all the years I’ve been soldiering on with thin and cheaply made pairs that essentially did nothing whatsoever to protect my hands from the cold.
I will say that the cream Trondheim Gloves I chose are so layered with thermal goodness that they’re quite chunky, and do make my (admittedly tiny) hands look humorously out of proportion with the rest of my body, and I’m yet to see whether I can manoeuvre my power-chair control stick while wearing them. But heck, if they help keep me nice and toasty I’d still choose them any day of the week. The designs of the gloves range in particular are so pretty and stylish, and many of them co-ordinate nicely with what we have next…
Hats and Neck Warmers
Whether or not you’re a hat person, Heat Holders has you covered. The Arden Pom Pom Hat in Coral is so pretty, and unlike most hats I’ve tried in the past, doesn’t completely swamp my abnormally small head… always a bonus, right? Comfy, cute, and cosy, this hat also matches beautifully with the Trondheim Gloves mentioned previously.
If you’ve followed me on Instagram for a few years you may know that I personally love a warming headband, and this Alta Headband will serve me well over the coming months. I have the purple one, which also pairs nicely with my new Neck Warmer in the same colour. I was slightly reluctant to try the Neck Warmer at first and had concerns over whether I could pull it off, but like with every other Heat Holders product I’ve tried, once I’d put it on, I knew I’d prioritise the warmth it provides over anything else. I don’t even have words for the cosy cosy-ness of that Neck Warmer.
And finally… the showstopper, if you will. I had no idea that Heat Holders had a home range, and I can’t even begin to express my joy at finding out they do Plush Throws and Fleece Blankets. Made of a dreamy soft fleece known as HeatWeaver, the blanket has an official tog rating of 1.7, complete with thermal properties that help keep heat within the lucky duck who happens to be under it.
The Fleece Blankets come in 22 gorgeous colours, and my own blanket in Moon Rock is quite possibly one of the best things that’s happened to me during this absolute shambles of a year. The blankets are machine washable so nice and easy to look after, and you can genuinely feel the heat being retained and radiated back towards your body. Mine has singlehandedly taken my cosy evenings in front of the television to a whole new level.
Y’know I mentioned earlier that it takes an incredibly long time for my body to start functioning again after I feel cold? It turns out I could have saved a lot of time on that front had I not been buying cheap and cheerful blankets and just turned to Heat Holders instead. Not only does my new blanket help me to defrost, if you will, it actually makes me feel… warm?! And as somebody who never feels properly warm, that’s a pretty bold statement to make.
I can hand on heart say I’ll never go back now I’ve tried these blankets. Do what you will with this information.
So, as you may *just* be able to tell, I’m quite the fan of Heat Holders. Over the years their products have genuinely improved my quality of life and helped me to manage my condition: they’re useful for such a huge range of people and by no means exclusively for those with chronic illnesses but in a way, they almost feel like an adaptive aid. They’ve offered me comfort in the face of some rather challenging symptoms, and you simply can’t put a price on that.
Whether you too are a permanently frozen individual or you’re simply looking for some cute and affordable thermals to keep you cosy over the Winter months, I cannot speak highly enough of the products Heat Holders offer.
Get yourself on their website and use code PIPPA15 for 15% off your order, and consider this your blessing to treat yourself today. You have a browse and I’ll pop the kettle on. The cold never bothered us anyway, right?