5 Ways to Warm Up if You're Always Cold

The key to staying warm is mastering the art of layering. Elena Efimova/Shutterstock

When it's cold outside, it can sometimes seem impossible to get warm.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to solve that problem. You may have to cycle through these ideas depending on the situation, but at least when you hug people, they won't say, "Wow, you're freezing!"

We've written before on the site about ways to keep a house warm, which will certainly come in handy, but first, let's focus on your body and then worry about the house.

1. Dress for success. Everyone's been admonished to bundle up, but has anyone ever explained exactly how to do that? You can't just toss on layers willy-nilly. Instead, think about heat loss — a lot of the chemical reactions your body performs are intended to release heat — and how to stop it.

First, start with a thin, snug-fitting layer that wicks sweat off your skin. Merino wool or silk is good for this, as is polyester. These fabrics will keep you dry, and you want to stay dry when it's cold. Over this base layer, it's time to add some insulation to retain body heat. Wool works wonders here if you like a natural fabric, ditto goose down and cashmere. Polyester can again help you, if it's something like a polyester fleece. Finally, for your third layer, and this is mostly if you're going to be outside, you need something to protect yourself from the elements. Waterproof or water-resistant shells are what you want here, but avoid non-breathable options like coated nylon. You'll find yourself sweating through the layers.

If you're sticking indoors, and your garments will hold up, toss the base and second layers into the dryer for a quick warm-up. That will get you toasty in no time. Otherwise, keep an eye on them while they're laid out in front of a space heater.

A stack of plaid woolen blankets
Layering properly with blankets is important, too. Anna Mente/Shutterstock

2. Layer up in bed, too. Layering smart isn't only for your clothes. It's for blankets, too. Flannel sheets are a great base layer. Add a fluffy comforter and you're on your way. From there, add thin, dense blankets to the top. If you have a knitted or crocheted blanket or afghan you're fond of, but it under the duvet or comforter. Those holes are good for trapping heat, but you need to keep the heat where it belongs: near your body!

If this combination doesn't work out for you, consider getting a heated mattress pad. It fits over your mattress like a sheet and won't waste as much heat as an electric blanket.

A collection of warm spices in bowls
Warm spices will help you stay warm. Krzysztof Slusarczyk/Shutterstock

3. Eat and drink for warmth. Now that you're all cozy in your warm clothes, get some good food in your body. We don't just mean warm food, though that's certainly a good idea. Hot drinks, like tea, coffee and hot chocolate will warm you right up. Complex fats and carbohydrates will take more time for your body to break down, and that process will help keep you warmer for longer. Brown rice and oats are exactly what you need. Butter is a good complex fat, so why not try some buttered coffee or hot chocolate?

Spicing up your diet with ginger, cinnamon, cumin, pepper, turmeric and paprika will also help to keep you warmer. Some of these, like ginger and cinnamon, are common in lots of herbal teas and they make a great addition to hot chocolate, too. Adding a pinch of cayenne or ground chili to hot chocolate will it give some additional heat. Haldi doodh, or golden milk, uses turmeric and other spices to soothe and warm.

One more thing to help yourself stay cool: water. About 40 percent of people don't feel as thirsty during the winter as they do in summer, but our bodies still need the same amount of water.

A man stretches before exercising in cold weather
Moving your body can help you stay warm since it increases your body temperature. baranq/Shutterstock

4. Move your body. It's hard to get motivated to exercise when it's cold outside. If it helps, just think about how much warmer you'll be during the workout! If you're not feeling up to running outside, hit the gym for a workout instead. Exercise will get your blood bumping and will generate more body heat. If the gym's a no-go, do activities around the house that involve plenty of movement, like housework or a repair project you've neglected.

5. Avoid alcohol. Mulled wine is delicious, it's true, and there are few things better than a hot toddy before bed. But while alcohol will make you feel warmer, it doesn't actually keep you warm. When you take a swig, alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, and that brings a higher volume of blood to the surface. This is what makes you feel warm initially. However, the blood is going to chill more rapidly now due to the cold, making you colder. And if you sweat at this point — say you're vigorously cheering on your favorite team — that's also going to reduce your body temperature. This can happen even after a single drink.