Unless you've been living under a rock, or you're not that interested in all things coffee, you may have missed the news Starbucks is launching the Pumpkin Spice Latte (#PSL4LYF) extremely early this year. At the time of writing, the sickly sweet coffee variables are about to be back on the menu, which is surprising seeing as we've only just reached the end of the dog days of summer.
The news did suddenly make me realise something important, though; it's almost autumn! That means, depending on where in the world you are, we're about to get those three magical months of crisp mornings, taking big jackets and scarves back out of the wardrobe, and stomping around sludgy mounds of leaves in big boots.
I love autumn, but I know one thing that doesn't: my home heating. That's why I've now made the connection of all things Autumnal with an annual scoot around the house to check on my radiators. Now is the time to check your radiators are working fine and will happily whirr away when you reset the timer to come on in the morning. Otherwise, you could end up with busted pipes and broken radiators in the colder month.
Let's take a look at why you should be thinking about your radiator valves now that it's almost the time of year for them to get back in action.
Firstly, know how your valves really work
Are you the kind of person who will crank the radiator valve open fully when you need the heating on later in the year? I hate to break it to you, but you might be wasting a LOT of energy in the process, which in turn will cause bills to go up. That's money which could be better spent on Pumpkin Spice Lattes!
Many people have a basic misunderstanding of how radiator valves work. It's all too easy to crank the valve open with a little lefty loosey action and walk away to let the radiator do its job. I always tell people to think of their radiator valves like the taps on your kitchen sink. When you need water to fill a glass, do you turn the tap a little bit to let the water stream through easily, or do you turn that tap fully and let the water rush in like it's going out of style, letting most of it flush down the drain?
This is the same way radiators work. The degree to which you have a valve open determines how much water gets in, and how hot a radiator can get.
Secondly, know what type of valve you have
On your radiator, do you have valves with a little cap on like a thimble, or do you have valves which are numbered and look like they have a hat on? If it's the little cap, you have a manual valve, and you'll have to play about a little to guess what the optimal opening needs to be to let the right amount of water in. If you have the numbered valve with the hat thing on top, that's a thermostatic valve, and this autumn it is about to become your new best friend.
Ever have it where you have the heating timed to come in when you get in, and you come home to a stuffy and almost sweaty room? The thermostatic valve can change that. Like what I said about the kitchen sink analogy, these valves allow for a greater level of control as the cap has its own little thermometer like magic going on. A small heat sensor inside will push a pin down on where water comes on, depending on how hot you want the room to be. If you've always had these valves set to 5, turn them down to 2 or 3, and you'll be surprised that your rooms will feel pleasant rather than a sauna.
Again, most people don't know this, but when thermostatic valves are up around 4 or 5, you're essentially asking the valve to heat the radiator to a point where the room is around 30°C/ 86°F. If you try your hardest to avoid rooms being this hot in the summer, why would you have valves set this way in the autumn?
Thirdly, get a good deal on valves
No one should be expected to know off the top of their head how much a radiator valve costs. The price of a bottle of milk or Pumpkin Spice Latte (I promise that's the last mention of it) sure, but radiator valves, where do you even start?
May I point you in the direction of the lovely folk at Trade Radiators. They're an online-only radiator store which specialises in all types of radiators, valves and all the other accessories you never knew you wanted on your radiator. They can help you get the right type of valve for your radiators this autumn, especially if you think it would be worth switching from a manual to thermostatic model.
It helps too they have valves in some lovely colours as well, and not just those off-white valves that come as standard.
Make your home work for you!
I hope I somehow managed to make the seemingly mundane world of radiator valves sound more exciting. If you're stuck at home with what's going on in the word, and you're finding working there a little tedious, read about the Small Changes You Can Make In Your Home to Improve Your Health.
5 min read
When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.
The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.
While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.
Risks of Reaching for Another Drink
Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.
Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.
While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.
Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress
Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!
Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:
- Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
- Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
- Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.
Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.
Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First
It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.
However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.
If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.
I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.