(if you happen to be reading this in Australia, these bits of advice may not be particularly relevant for you)
As Britain begins its annual cosplay of Winterhold from Skyrim, in which the land and the people cover themselves in snow and bearskins respectively, I feel it is relevant to give you some advice on how to keep warm this, or indeed any, winter, without having to decimate the local bear population, or burn your own family members for warmth (because gas prices right now are higher than the temperature isn’t).
1) Exhale into clothes
This is an easy one to do if you’ve got a coat the zips or Velcroes up to your neck, or even over your mouth: secure the top of the coat closed over or around your mouth, and regularly breathe out into it. You’ll notice that exhaled breath it hot, and so you’ll warm the inside of your coat up, which is often made from a soft, insulating material, either as the inner layer of a waterproof coat, or simply because you’re wearing a Victorian-style greatcoat.
Also, you lose the majority of your heat from your head, because the importance brain-happenings go on there, which requires a lot of energy, so by breathing directly into the top of your coat, your moth will be almost, or even, touching said coat, which is warm. This warmth will then spread through your entire head if you do this regularly enough, and if you get over the fact that you’ll look a bit like Wilfred from the Beano, because only your eyes will be visible above your coat.
2) Walk about a bit
Holy crap, physical exercise! Yes, walking will warm your leg muscles up, because they’ll actually be used for something, rather than just being curled up stationary against your torso; this is why we shiver, to stimulate our muscles into moving, and giving off heat (I can science, right?).
Also, this will distract you from your impending coldness; play dumb games with yourself as you wait for a train, by seeing how many times you can walk from one end of the platform to the other before the train arrives, or measure how many paces the platform is long. Perhaps you’ll even get some funny looks by stationary cold people, who will immediately start judging you and asking if you’re insane, and a conversation is great for distracting you from your other, helpful, thoughts of ‘Oh Jesus, we need more global warming!’
And by the way, I speak from experience on this one particularly, as having to wait for a train at nine in the evening after a day at Cambridge, in the British December with nothing but a thin suit, is one of the most literally bone-chilling experiences the human body is capable of undergoing.
3) Lose the weight you gained over Christmas
Holy crap, more physical exercise?! People will say that fat is useful as it warms you, which is true, but fat also creates a feeling of lethargy; if you gained weight over Christmas, you’ll likely not want to try to burn it off until you get guilted into following through on your drunkenly-conceived New Year’s Resolution to exercise more by a significant other in April. Therefore, losing weight will make it easier to play the silly walking games to distract yourself from coldness, as you feel more able to walk about.
Let’s be honest, losing half a kilo or so can’t be that helpful in terms of physical heat retention (can I still science?), but losing that weight will make you think that exercise, which is the root of all warmth anyway, is easily achievable.
4) Get gloves
Either through purchasing them for yourself, or receiving them as a gift from other people, as both of these will guilt you into wearing them: you’ll wear those big ski gloves your partner bought you so their money won’t go to waste, and you’ll wear the dumb mittens you bought yourself so as not to waste your own damn money. This is especially given the importance of gloves, and to an extent socks, as these are the bits that feel the coldest and the sorest in my experience; if you can stop the most painful impacts of coldness, being a bit chilly suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
Also, wearing gloves with a coat means your entire torso is covered in protective layers, which does make me think I’m a little bit like Commander Shepard, with his fancy, full-body, black armour.
5) Wear walking boots
In a similar vein to the prior point, your feet are of critical importance in terms of keeping warm; if they get wet, they’ll get cold, making it harder to walk and do most of the things I’ve suggested, and the endless gritting of every remotely snow-sprinkled surface here in London means that for a brief period, the puddles outnumber the people.
Wearing waterproof boots protects and warms your feet, and makes it a Hell of a lot easier to traverse the ice- and puddle-covered landscape most cities deteriorate into by late January, so your overall fear of winter, and its ability to make you face-plant like someone in a YouTube video from circa 2008, will drop rapidly.
And yes, wearing big, heavy boots contributes to that Shepard-imitating feeling; I really like Mass Effect, okay?