7 Tips For Staying Warm When You're Venturing Out Into The Cold
Getting outside and spending time in nature is an invaluable part of self-care that, if you're like me, loses a bit of its appeal in the winter months. I'm not big on the cold, and I've definitely let it keep me from getting outside in the past. But not anymore! I live in Buffalo, New York, which is known for some pretty intense blizzards. Needless to say, over the years I've figured out a few key things to keep in mind when you're venturing out in the cold:
Know how to layer.
Step 1: Dressing properly is essential. Wear layers that keep you warm but don't cause you to overheat. If you're doing anything strenuous like hiking, having layers you can easily take off is super helpful. You'll always want a backpack to stash any clothes you take off.
And while we're talking clothes, try to avoid cotton, as it'll soak up your sweat and leave you chilly. Dri-FIT base layers are best. Also, mittens are better than gloves at keeping your fingers warm!
Have some spare clothing handy.
Most specifically, keep an extra hat, pair of gloves, and pair of socks in your backpack. If any of those get wet, you'll want to swap them out. Your fingers, toes, and head are going to bear the brunt of the cold, so you always want to make sure they're covered.
Control your breath.
This tip comes from extreme athlete, cold exposure expert, and NYT bestselling author of The Wim Hof Method Wim Hof. Being able to control your breath is essential to creating heat from the inside out.
With this breathing exercise, Hof says you'll be able to warm your body without an external heat source. "With practice, you will feel the heat ﬂowing down from your neck to your whole body," he writes. "Everybody is different, but with practice, you will feel the heat coming from inside your body."
- Sit down.
- Inhale slowly and deeply ﬁve or six times, letting your breath go naturally each time.
- Inhale fully.
- Relax to exhale.
- Inhale fully.
- Hold your breath, for no more than ﬁve seconds.
- Tense your upper-back muscles and chest while you hold your breath—but don't tense the head. Keep your jaw relaxed.
- Let go.
Figure out your pace.
When you're outside in the cold, the best thing you can realistically do is keep moving, but—you don't want to move so vigorously you start sweating. Find a comfortable pace that keeps you warm but not too warm. Try to avoid stopping for prolonged stretches of time, and when you do stop, it's not a bad idea to wrap a blanket around yourself.
Hand and boot warmers are your friends.
Honestly, this one doesn't need much explanation. They're so helpful. Hold them in your mittens, put them in your boots, tuck one under your sports bra. Similarly, having a thermos of your favorite warm beverage never hurts.
Try to stay as dry as possible.
The common theme here is to stay dry. Cold and wet is not a good combination, and your excursion is likely to be cut short if you find yourself damp and cold. Try not to sweat to the best of your ability (remember those layers), change damp clothes when you can, and definitely don't sit on the ground; your pants will get wet.
Master the cold shower.
Lastly, Hof says in his book that one of the best ways you can overcome the cold is by mastering the cold shower. "If you do just 10 days of cold showers after warm showers—meaning that you end your regular, warm showers with a minute or so of cold water—then you will be able to command your vascular system to close up when you go into the cold," he writes.
Winter is nearly here, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on all the benefits of the great outdoors. Enjoying nature, even when it's cold, is possible when you come prepared.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.