The Polar Vortex may have come and gone, but we’re still a solid three months out from warm weather in the majority of the continental U.S. Short of packing a flask of whiskey or investing in one of those full down Sasquatch-y outfits, we present cheap and easy ways to stay warm when Arctic temps dance into our temperate existence.

  • Shovel snow. You’ll heat up instantly, plus a 150-lb person will burn 206 calories shoveling snow for a half an hour.
  • Stay hydrated. There’s a logical, if not somewhat expansive, relationship between staying hydrated and staying warm in the cold. In a nutshell, blood vessels constrict in order to moderate body temperature, which results in increased blood pressure. The kidneys counteract the raised blood pressure by producing more urine.
  • On the flip side, go pee when nature calls. The body spends a lot of energy keeping your core warm. A full bladder hogs heat that may otherwise be spent on your limbs and toes and fingers.
  • Free your sleeping bag from its winter slumber and use it as a throw for the couch. You likely sleep under down comforters, why not cozy up under down for your “Breaking Bad” marathon?
  • Eat spicy food. Seriously.
  • Stock up on the $1.99 hand warmer packets. The secret is to put them in your mittens before you go outside. They’re most effective when you never allow your hands to get too cold in the first place.
  • If you’re down to only one hand warmer, place it against the back of your neck – held in place with your T-neck or scarf. There are differing physiological explanations as to why this helps. It won’t significantly affect your comfort level, but it will take away the chill.
  • Not into the store-bought hand warmers? Zap fingerling potatoes in the microwave and stow them in your pocket for warm fingers on short walks.
  • Keep a back-up hat, pair of gloves, pair of socks and extra core layer in your car. They’re there in case of emergency.
  • Invite the dog onto the bed.
  • Let the cat sneak under the covers.
  • Indulge in nostalgic thoughts. According to researchers from the University of Southampton, reveling in pleasantly nostalgic memories can positively change our perception of the current temperature.

Stay dry. There cannot be a more important mantra in cold weather than this one. Keep your gear in shape with Nikwax and keep extra layers close at hand for sweaty activities and accidental slips in the slush.

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