Why is it that one person can be freezing cold when another is removing layers to cool down?
Different people experience the cold in different ways, at different times, and in different parts of the body. For many people being cold is a fact of life, and trying to stay warm without resorting to sitting in front of a heater is a continual challenge.
For sufferers of Raynaud’s Syndrome, exposure to cold can even cause blood vessels to restrict and blood to stop flowing to fingertips and toes. In extreme cases, this can result in tissue death causing ulcers and even gangrene.
We’ve searched wide and far to come up with the ultimate list of ways for keeping warm. Some of them are obvious, while others are simply ingenious or even a bit odd! We’ve tried to include as many FREE ideas as possible as well as products that can be purchased or hand-made. We hope that we’ve been able to provide enough suggestions that you find the method that works best for you.
PLEASE USE CAUTION! It can be difficult for your frozen extremities to tell exactly how hot something is, and you don’t want to get burned. With any of these suggestions, test the temperature carefully before diving in.
- Section 1 – Bundling Up
- 1 – Dress Appropriately
- 2 – Hats & Especially Beanies and Toques
- 3 – Ear Muffs & Headbands
- 4 – Scarves
- 5 – Turtlenecks
- 6 – The Balaclava
- 7 – Thumb-Holes & Thermals
- 8 – Hand Muffs
- 9 – Gloves, Mitts & Fingerless Gloves
- 10 – Arm Warmers and Wristlets
- 11 – Leg Warmers
- 12 – Thick or Fuzzy Socks
- 13 – Footwear
- 14 – Thermal Insoles
- 15 – Electrically Heated Clothing
- Section 2 – In the Bedroom
- Section 3 – The Rest of the House
- Section 4 – Food, Diet and Lifestyle
- Section 5 – Other
- How do you stay warm?
Section 1 – Bundling Up
When you’re cold, layers of clothing can be your friend. Being able to add or remove layers will help you regulate your temperature. The essential first step for any sufferer of cold is to be prepared with appropriate clothing.
1 – Dress Appropriately
We shouldn’t have to say it, but let’s state the obvious – dress for the weather!
Start with underclothes, then long underclothes, then vest, then shirt and pants or long skirt, then a sweater. It’s important to have a layer directly against your skin and then at least one more layer to trap the warmth. Choose loose layers of clothing because it will do a better job of keeping you warm than tight clothing – leaving space for warm air to circulate is the key.
2 – Hats & Especially Beanies and Toques
In Canada and America they’re called a toque and in the UK, Australia and South Africa they’re called a beanie.
It is well known that heat can escape our bodies through our heads, so a toque (warm hat or hood) is a great way to stop that from happening. Some hats (including toques) are also good for covering cold ears.
There’s tons of variety and plenty of fashion choices if you go out shopping. They are also one of the easier things to knit sitting by the fire.
3 – Ear Muffs & Headbands
Some Raynaud’s sufferers will experience loss of circulation in the tips of their ears.
Available in a huge range of colors and styles, earmuffs are a cheap addition to your wardrobe. They really help keep your head warm and totally prevent your ears from feeling the burn of a cold windy day.
4 – Scarves
When it comes to keeping the neck warm and stopping cold air getting into the top of your clothing, you can’t go wrong with a scarf.
It doesn’t matter if you wear a light scarf around the neck or wrap a thick and fluffy scarf around your neck, ears and over your head, a scarf is truly versatile. As well as keeping you warm, they are also a great fashion accessory.
Even the light-weight scarves do a great job of keeping your core temperature up, especially if they’re wrapped around more than once.
5 – Turtlenecks
For a lot of people, wearing a turtleneck jumper or scarf around the neck can be difficult. The feeling of constriction when you pull it over your head and the tightness around the neck can be too much for some people (even causing minor panic attacks).
However, if you can get past this, turtlenecks are brilliant at keeping out the cold and keeping your neck and upper body warm.
6 – The Balaclava
Who doesn’t want to dress as a Ninja?
All joking aside, a balaclava is what you need when the weather turns really cold and the wind chill sets in. They are also perfect when you are riding a motorbike or out skiing.
With lots of designs and colors available, you’re not just stuck with black, and if you don’t like the feeling of constriction, you can always pull your scarf up over your face instead.
7 – Thumb-Holes & Thermals
There are many clothing manufacturers that make sweaters, jackets or hoodies with thumb-holes in the sleeves.
If desired, a thumb-hole can also be added to a garment that has sleeves long enough to extend to your knuckles.
Definitely not as effective as actual mitts, but because your hands are covered up to the knuckles you will find that warm palms really helps to warm the fingers as well.
Also on the plus side, exposed fingers allow you to maintain use of your fingers in situations requiring dexterity (such as cooking, writing, typing, etc.) where mitts or gloves would be a hindrance.
8 – Hand Muffs
Hand muffs are not that common these days and they’re hardly a fashion statement.
But considering a hand muff is just a tube to insert your hands at both ends, you could easily make one to your own taste, and even match it with your coat, scarf, hat, etc.
Combining a hand muff with a purse is a novel idea. With several products available on Amazon, you can be stylish and cozy by putting your hands in your purse for warmth!
9 – Gloves, Mitts & Fingerless Gloves
Everyone has their own opinion of which keep you warmer.
Some people feel that mittens keep your fingers warmer because all your fingers are together and not individually wrapped, and others prefer gloves.
Nothing beats dexterity when digging for keys at the bottom of your purse. Mittens basically cripple you in some situations and you end up taking them off to get things done, which totally defeats the purpose of wearing them in the first place.
You may find that a combination of the two works best for you – mittens that can be opened to expose your fingers or closed to keep them warm. You can also find gloves and mitts with special pockets for inserting warming packets.
10 – Arm Warmers and Wristlets
Like leg warmers, arm warmers are simply a tube, except with a hole for your thumb. Arm warmers (and leg warmers) can be hand-made easily by someone who knows how to knit.
Arm warmers are great for that little bit of extra warmth for your hands while indoors, and can also help close the gap between your coat and gloves when outside. Even though your fingers are exposed, keeping your palms warm can help to keep your fingers warm too.
11 – Leg Warmers
Take the next step from stockings and consider getting leg warmers.
Some of the best leg warmers are a stirrup design that is designed for ballet dancers. They’re extra long, allowing you to pull them up over your knees and also to cover a good part of your feet.
The word stirrup makes you think of merely a simple strap under the foot, but they actually have moderate foot coverage, making them much warmer for your feet than leg warmers that stop at the ankle. Lastly, they are thinner than some other leg warmers, giving them a low profile that allows them to be discreetly and comfortably worn under jeans or pants.
12 – Thick or Fuzzy Socks
There are a lot of different options for thick warm socks.
Wool socks do the best job of warming your feet, but a lot of people find them to be itchy. If you sweat, change your socks regularly and if you’re feeling cold, try changing your socks because you’ve probably been sweating.
Tip : Try warming your fluffy socks in the dryer before putting them on. The heat they retain will quickly make your toes toastie warm and the tumble dryer will make them extra fluffy.
13 – Footwear
For the ultimate comfort and warmth, nothing beats sheepskin lined slippers.
When it comes to selecting shoes or winter boots, take care to ensure they are a little large for your feet so there’s lots of room for warm air. If your feet are constricted into tight footwear, it will be more difficult for your blood to circulate, and there will be no room for warm air. The larger size allows the warm air to circulate, and also allows you to wear thick socks and/or insoles.
14 – Thermal Insoles
If you don’t want to use disposable pads that heat temporarily, you can opt instead for thermal insoles that help to break the transfer of heat or cold from the ground to your feet.
These have the benefit of not just being for short-term use.
15 – Electrically Heated Clothing
Last but not least in the clothing section! Electrically heated clothing, when regular garments just aren’t enough!
Section 2 – In the Bedroom
16 – Flannel Sheets
Do you dread getting into bed with cold sheets? If you do, you need to swap to flannel.
Flannel is a loose knit fabric that’s typically made from wool or synthetic fibers. It’s known for its softness and warmth and making beds cozy in winter months.
If you haven’t tried them, you don’t know the soft warmth you’re missing. The soft fuzzy cotton feels much warmer next to you, so when you climb into bed you don’t spend the next 20 minutes shivering.
17 – Heated Blankets and Heating Pads
A cozy, warm electric blanket or heating pad appeals to many people during the winter months.
Electric blankets typically save money compared to turning up the heat when the temperatures drop.
There’s nothing like crawling into a warm and toastie bed the last thing at night.
18 – Hot Water Bottles
Slip a hot water bottle or two under the covers to warm up your bed.
A hot water bottle under your feet while watching TV is great. Wrapping your feet and water bottle together to prevent the heat from escaping too quickly can be especially effective. Put one on your feet and one near your middle and wrap them in a cloth so you don’t get burnt.
There are a lots of options and the ones with a fabric covering are especially cozy to cuddle.
19 – Blankets
Make sure there are plenty of blankets on beds.
Alternate between light and heavy blankets so you can add or remove layers as the weather changes from day to day.
Include a matress protector under your bottom sheet to protect the matress and to provide an extra level of cushioning and warmth.
20 – Pillows
If your bed is against an outside wall, layers of pillows can help insulate your bed.
Keep your pillows and night clothes under your sheets during the day too.
21 – Curtain The Bed
Keep the heat around your bed by installing curtains.
The easiest option is to hang curtains around a 4 post bed. However, there are lots of DIY projects on the internet explaining how to install curtain rails around the outside of your bed.
Note: You don’t need heavy curtains to keep in heat. Even a light curtain material will stop heat from escaping.
22 – Sleep Together
Snuggling up to another person is a great way to keep warm at night.
If you read any survival book, it explains that sharing body heat with a hypothermic person is the best way to warm their core temperature.
Of course, there are other ways to get hot in bed – but we will leave that for another post.
According to a post on the AARP website, in one study, people with Raynaud’s disease reported significant improvement in their symptoms after taking 50 mg of Viagra twice a day for four weeks. I can’t personally vouch for it – so proceed with caution.
23 – Change Your Clothes
Always change your clothes when you go to bed.
Did you know that no matter how cold it is, you sweat all day? Change everything, right down to your socks and underwear.
Wear pajamas or a nightshirt. If it’s really cold, wear a nightcap to keep your head and ears warm as well.
Section 3 – The Rest of the House
24 – Seek Heat & Avoid Cold
Make the effort (when possible) to stay away from cold and stay close to the heat.
Sit near a fireplace or space heater, or cuddle up with a warm friend or family member (especially effective with a blanket big enough for two). Wear mittens, pot holders or use a tea towel when taking items out of the fridge or freezer to stay warm.
Cuddling up with a large and furry pet also makes a great heat source. As a bonus, your pet will love the attention.
25 – Curtains
The best way to warm a house on a clear morning is to open the curtains and to let the heat of the sun stream in, and close the curtains again at night to retain the heat.
Another consideration is the weight of your curtains.
If they are thin, either add an insulation layer or consider hanging heavy blankets on your windows.
26 – Blankets Everywhere
Don’t store your blankets in the cupboard. Instead scatter them in strategic areas around the house where you can wrap up and keep warm if you’re not busy.
All your chairs and sofas should have a blanket handy. There’s nothing better than snuggling up on a sofa wrapped in a blanket with a hot drink and a book!
The blankets don’t all need to be the heavy variety. Crotcheted designs are good for throwing over your feet to warm up your toes when you core is already warm.
27 – Carpet
Concerete floors are worst, with timber floors at a close second at losing heat.
Make sure all of your exposed floor areas are covered with carpet or rugs in the colder months.
Don’t forget under the kitchen table and in front of the sink and stove.
28 – Stop The Drafts
If you have drafts, make sur eyou use draft stoppers to stop them dead.
Make sure all the windows are sealed to stop any heat escaping.
If you like in an apartment building, the gap at the bottom of the front door is a common place for heat to escape into the unheated hallway or open courtyard outside your apartment.
29 – Block Off Rooms
Small rooms and areas are easier to heat.
Don’t waste heating unnecessarily by blocking off parts of the house or apartment you aren’t using. Keep your activities in one or two rooms and you will only end up needing to heat a couple of hundred feet. Only heat the rooms you are in and don’t forget to turn off the underfloor heating in guest bathrooms etc.
The blocked of rooms can also act as a buffer to the cold outside. When you do go in those rooms, be prepared for a shock of cold.
30 – Double Glazing
If your house isn’t double glazed and you can afford the expense, it can make a huge difference to keeping the cold out (and the heat in)
You don’t have to double glaze the entire house. When it’s cold you’ll spend most of your time in a main living area and your bedroom – so do them first if you don’t want to do the entire house.
There are plenty of companies that can add a second glaze to existing windows to avoid replacing the frame etc.
Section 4 – Food, Diet and Lifestyle
31 – Physical Activity
Exercise is a great way to get the blood flowing and elevate your core temperature.
A quick set of sit-ups or push-ups gets the blood going, especially if you’re out of shape. It only takes a minute and doesn’t involve going anywhere or spending any money. Try doing some sit-ups wearing a dressing gown or housecoat.
Exercise is just another way to say ‘keep moving’. You can accomplish this easily enough by doing some housework! Plunge your hands into dishwater, fold hot laundry, cook a hot meal or run around with the vacuum. Chores frequently involve working with hot things, so they really help warm you up from the heat as well as the physical activity. Multi-tasking; get your blood circulating from constant movement at the same time as getting stuff done.
You could also do some gardening, paint a room, scrub some floors (or just go for a jog and forget the chores!), whatever you decide, keep moving and your blood will too.
32 – Food and Drink
Eat warm food and enjoy hot drinks to warm you from the inside-out.
In terms of what to eat, the options are almost limitless – hot chocolate, tea, warm milk, soup, oatmeal, roasts, etc.
Warm food and hot drinks are very effective for warming you up no matter how cold you get. It works in three ways; the heat of the food or drink helps warm your body from the inside, holding the warm cup, bowl or plate warms your hands, and feeding your body gives you calories to burn.
Tip! Caffeine should be avoided, as it constricts blood vessels stopping blood flow to the end of your fingers and toes. Herbal teas or white teas have little or no caffeine, and Black tea has about half the caffeine of drip coffee when its brewed. Caffeine may not affect you as much as other – just be aware of the effects and drink it in moderation.
For a person with Raynaud’s, cutting meat or vegetables that have been stored in the fridge can actually be painful. If you have a lot of food to prepare, you may find that using a cheap pair of magic gloves under a pair of food-safe disposable gloves is a better option. The magic gloves will help insulate you from the cold food, while the disposable gloves will keep your magic gloves from getting wet and messy at the same time as preventing fuzz from getting into your food.
33 – Don’t Smoke
Did you know that one puff of a cigarette lowers the temperature of your fingertips by 1 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit in 3 minutes?
While the heat of smoking may make your chest feel warmer, it also restricts the blood supply to your hands and toes.
The jury is out on e-cigarettes. However, it is known that nicotine is the primary cause of blood vessels restricting. With this in mind, e-juices without nicotine would be the best choice.
Of course, most places don’t allow you to smoke indoors – so you’ll have to brave the cold outside to get your smoking fix.
34 – Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol seems to make the body warmer, but the opposite is true.
Alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, which forces blood nearer to the surface of the skin.
In addition, alcohol diminishes the amount the body shivers. As a result, body heat is lost at a faster rate.
Section 5 – Other
35 – Clothes Dryer
We’ve already mentioned using the dryer to warm up socks – but when you’re cold, a clothes dryer can quickly give you instant warmth.
Try putting a large fluffy towel or blanket in the dryer for five minutes and then wrap it snugly around feet, legs, or your entire body. If you’re having a hard time getting warm at night, put your dressing gown or housecoat in the dryer for a few minutes, then climb into bed still wearing it. You won’t need to wear it all night, but it makes a huge difference going to bed with the warmth already provided.
36 – Your Own Body Heat
Keeping your hands right next to your body for warmth is good – though you may find that your hands are so cold that it is uncomfortable to touch your skin.
Instead, putting your hands against your body, but on the outside of your clothes is still effective but without cooling your whole body down.
The warmest places to put your hands are the crotch and armpit areas. (Be a bit careful with this one in public places)
37 – Microwaveable Products
Microwaveable products can be purchased or can also be hand-made: DIY Heating pad
You can find microwaveable products from scarves to slippers and even stuffed animals! The bags are quick to microwave and enjoy; used similar to a hot water bottle, but no need to pour hot water with frozen hands.
(Always use caution when removing hot items from the microwave.)
38 – USB Heaters
Do you find that your "mouse hand" is several degrees colder than your other hand from extended periods on the computer?
With advances in technology, you can now get heated mouse, mouse pad and even a heated keyboard!
There are many USB heated products, such as slippers, shawls, blankets (etc.), all that plug into your computer.
39 – Warming Packs
The great thing about warming packs is that they don’t need anything special to make them work. Simply pull one out of the packet and give it a good shake to get instant heat for up to half an hour.
They come in small sizes for gloves, socks, or pockets, etc, and large sizes for beds or sleeping bags.
Use caution and follow the instructions with warming packs as some products can stain clothing.
40 – Massage
If you’re lucky enough to know someone with warm hands who will give you a foot or hand massage, the friction of rubbing is excellent for getting your circulation going.
If you don’t know anyone with massage skills, there are machines available that can do it for you.
Some of them even have built-in heating abilities.
41 – Foot Bath
Soothe your muscles and releive aches and pains by soaking your feet in a tub of warm water at the end of a hard day.
A foot bath or foot spa is also perfect for cold nights when you want to watch TV in the living room with the family while soaking in a nice warm bath.
Most foot spas have bumps or texture on the base that help you massage the feeling back into your feet by sliding your feet back and forth over the surface.
If you don’t want to spend the money on a foot bath, simply fill a bucket with warm water and sit with your feet submerged.
Avoid using the vibration functionality if you have Raynaud’s Syndrome or if you have poor circulation. Most Foot Spa’s include a warning on the outside of the box.
How do you stay warm?
There you go – a long list of ways to keep warm during a temporary (or long-term) loss of heat during the winter.
Have we left anything off the list? Let us know in the comments below.
And don’t forget to share with your family and friends to make their day a little bit warmer.