Ways to Trick Your Body Into Feeling Warmer on Frigid Cold Days
There are simple things we can do to look after ourselves and others so we all stay healthy and happy this winter.
Focus on your breath
In one study, participants used a meditative “vase breathing” technique to raise their core body temperature to 101 degrees. Begin by inhaling deeply. On your exhale, contract both your abdominal and pelvic muscles so your lower belly takes on the shape of a gently rounded vase or pot. Some practitioners also recommend visualizing a flame on the spinal cord. For something simpler, try yoga’s staple, ujjayi (“victorious”) breath. Constrict the back of your throat as you slowly breathe in and out through your nose. The constriction creates more work for muscles involved in respiration, which helps build internal heat. Here are some more ways your body reacts to cold weather.
Bundle up the smart way
Layers trap heat and help prevent sweating (which makes you feel colder). Start with a tight-fitting bottom layer made of a fast-drying fabric like polyester, merino wool, silk, or another synthetic blend (stay away from slow-drying cotton). Add a long-sleeved shirt, cardigan sweater, or fleece vest. Wear your winter coat on top. If you want an extra layer between you and your jacket, invest in a quality wool sweater, suggests Sierra Trading Post. Wool is one of the best natural insulators. Learn more about how to properly layer clothes to stay warm.
Layer your blankets properly
For a cozy bed, use multiple blankets to help trap heat. Start with flannel sheets. Then put your fluffiest comforter on the bottom, and layer thin, dense blankets on top, advises Mental Floss. If you keep your bed pushed up against an external wall of your home, pull it a few inches toward the center of the room on chilly days. While you’re readying your house for winter, make sure you’re not making these common “winter-proofing” mistakes.
Eat something fatty
If you plan to stay outside for a long time, fuel your body’s inner furnace by eating something that digests slowly. “When your body starts to digest, you feel warm because your body has to provide energy to digest that food product,” Barry Swanson, a professor and food scientist at Washington State University, told Time. “Fat is notorious for moving slowly through the digestive system.” One mountaineer told Oprah.com he uses butter: “Hot chocolate with half a stick of butter in it tastes good, generates heat, and warms you up when you are freezing in a tent on the side of a mountain.” And in case you’re wondering, yes, there are some healthy fatty foods. Here are some of the best.
Tie your scarf like this
Use a hidden knot to protect your neck and chest from the cold. Drape the scarf over the front of your neck so the ends hang backward over your shoulders. Then, cross the ends behind your head and bring them to the front. Cross the ends over each other, and pull one end through, to make a loose knot. Tuck the knot under the front of the scarf. For a tutorial on the hidden knot, see here. Check out these other winter fashion tips for looking good while staying warm.
Make DIY hand warmers
Try this method from Instructables: You’ll need one large zip-top bag, one smaller zip-top bag, calcium chloride ice-melter pellets (available at most hardware stores), and water.
Fill the large bag about 1.5 inches up with calcium chloride. Take the smaller bag and fill it about halfway with water, squeezing out any excess air. Put the smaller bag into the larger bag and again squeeze out the air. To activate the warmers, nudge the seal of the smaller bag until it opens. When the water combines with the calcium chloride, it will cause a chemical reaction with a hot byproduct. Tuck a bag into each coat pocket for toasty hands. Not feeling crafty? Pre-made hand warmers are available at most hardware stores. Here are some more tips for keeping your hands (and feet) warm this winter.
Think happy thoughts
One study found that nostalgia truly warms the heart. Participants who recalled a nostalgic event (versus an ordinary one) had a greater tolerance for intense cold. Next time you’re waiting outside on a frigid day, summon up those cheery memories of coming home to a surprise party or opening presents on Christmas morning. Learn more about how happy thoughts have positive effects on your body.
Sip something warm
Hot drinks and soups will make you feel warmer, if only for a little while. Hot fluids don’t actually raise your internal temperature, but give you the impression of heating up, Michael Cirigliano, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, told Real Simple. “Your mouth is among the most sensitive parts of your body,” he says. The hot liquid in that sensitive area gives you the feeling that you’re warm. Bonus: One study found that people who briefly held a cup of hot coffee (versus iced) judged others as having more generous and caring personalities. Here are some more ways to stay safe and healthy during the bitter cold.
“Ginger is a stimulating herb,” Judy Griffin, author of Mother Nature’s Herbal, told WebMD. This means the herb increases circulation. “It warms you up from the inside,” she says. But just because it works for ginger doesn’t mean you can rely on all spices to warm you up. Other spicy foods will cause you to break a sweat, which could in turn cool you down. Here are some more foods that improve circulation.