For those of you who had convinced yourself that the balmy weather we’ve been having all autumn was here to stay, I have bad news: winter is coming. Parts of the UK were colder this week than Icelandic capital Reykjavik, and some parts saw the first frosts. Temperatures dropped to -2c in rural areas.

But just before you dig out the fleece pyjamas and hot water bottle, I’ve been interested to read about some proven ways to trick your body into thinking it’s warmer than it really is.

Now, I’m not saying these are going to stave off frostbite — but I certainly am a great believer in the power of the mind.

We also know that feeling hot or cold is not only very subjective — some people just naturally seem to feel more comfortable at certain temperatures compared to others — but also dependent on a number of factors such as our emotions.

Here are six of my favorite mental tricks that will keep you warm in the cold days. . .

NHS psychiatrist Dr Max Pemberton shared how to trick your body into thinking it's warmer than it really is (file image)

Max Pemberton, a psychiatrist in the NHS shared his secrets for tricking your body to think it is warmer than it actually is. File image

Get together with an old friend

I vividly remember standing in long lines outside the supermarkets, in freezing temperatures, during the lockdown.

The waiting seemed to go on for ever and I’d hop from one foot to the other to try to keep warm in vain.

It was almost unbearable — in fact I even gave up once and left empty-handed.

But on this occasion, I met a street friend and we spent about 30 minutes talking to each other.

At no point did the cold weather even register — I certainly didn’t feel the need to hop from foot to foot or even rub my hands together. What’s the point? Because of lockdown we hadn’t seen each other for months so we were delighted to catch up. I was distracted by our conversation. There’s also some research that suggests talking to people we like raises our core body temperature slightly — so being sociable is like utilising our own internal heating.

But also the more we have to concentrate on the conversation — if, for example, we haven’t seen that person for a long time so there’s a lot of information to process — the more this helps boost our core body temperature.

Remember first kiss

Next time you find yourself feeling nippy, close your eyes and replay your first kiss in your mind’s eye.

It might sound strange — but studies have found that people who focus on an intensely emotional memory associated with love, affection or psychological warmth then feel warm too.

It’s thought this is because psychological warmth activates the same circuitry in the brain as physical warmth.

Our brains believe that physical warmth is possible when we think of something loving, tender and warm.

Dr Max (pictured) said studies have found that people who focus on an intensely emotional memory associated with love, affection or psychological warmth then feel warm too

Dr Max (pictured) said studies have found that people who focus on an intensely emotional memory associated with love, affection or psychological warmth then feel warm too

Watch a romance comedy while you get cozy

There’s something very cosy about sitting on the sofa, mug of tea in your hands, and watching a rom-com, isn’t there?

But research suggests it’s also a great way to feel toasty. One study found that subjects were more comfortable listening to stories about compassionate, loving, sensitive, and loyal people than they were hearing the same stories about competent, creative, or efficient characters.

Turn the heating on low and turn up Richard Curtis.

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Enjoy the nostalgia of good times

A 2012 study in Emotion, published by the journal Emotion, found that nostalgia can make us feel warmer.

Participants that had a fond memory of a past event were more able to withstand low temperatures than participants who had memories from an emotionally neutral historic event. So if you find yourself stuck outside, indulge in a bit of nostalgic daydreaming and hopefully you’ll feel warmer.

Visualize your vase and do some vase breathing

In studies, this Tibetan technique was shown to raise body temperature within 10 minutes in novices. The Tibetan nuns use this breathing technique to visualize heat balls moving up and downstream of their spines. This allows them to withstand cold temperatures. This breathing technique requires you to hold your breath and contract your abdominal muscles and pelvic floors. You should do this in such a manner that your stomach looks like a vase. YouTube provides videos to help you.

Warm tea and hot chocolate are good choices.

I know, you’ve already thought of this. But what’s interesting is that from a physiological perspective, drinking warm tea or hot chocolate only increases our body temperature slightly and relatively briefly. Our minds believe that warm drinks will make us feel warm.  

Gwyneth speaks for the first time about sense!

Gwyneth Paltrow has spoken about the unrealistic expectations placed on women during and after birth. Pictured: Gwyneth Paltrow with Apple

Gwyneth Paltrow has spoken about the unrealistic expectations placed on women during and after birth. Pictured: Gwyneth Paltrow with Apple

Gwyneth has shared how hard childbirth was for her and the unmet expectations that women are subject to after giving birth. She’s also criticised social media for making women feel as though they are supposed to ‘look’ a certain way though pregnancy and birth.

I haven’t always been a fan of Gwyneth, what with some of her rather wacky new-age health beliefs, but on this she’s spot on. Since my maternity work, I’ve had to deal with mothers who have mental illness. Time and time again, I would be asked to see mothers who were upset and distressed because they felt they didn’t ‘love’ their baby in the way they thought they were supposed to and felt they wouldn’t be able to cope. They would be reassured that they aren’t crazy.

The real tragedy is too often women don’t get help because they are embarrassed or ashamed to ask for it. Yet in reality, the arrival of a baby is a bomb going off in your life — everything is disrupted. Part of the solution is being open about what it’s like to be a mom. Sometimes even the most accomplished mothers in the world have to struggle.

  • Given the rise in infection rates, our deputy chief medical officer advised us to wear masks. Britain is currently home to one of the most high rates of Covid-related deaths in the world. Over the last months, mask wearing has slowed down. I’ll confess to being pleased about this — it’s been so nice to see people’s faces again. But despite not being very convinced by the science to support mask wearing, I’m going to put mine back on. What’s the point? The prospect of another lockdown fills me with horror and I’ll do anything to avoid it. Let’s all stay a little cautious this Christmas. 

Dr Max recommends…

Charity beanie

100 per cent of profits from each limited edition beanie design by Daniel W. Fletcher goes to the Be Well Collective

100% of the profits on each limited-edition beanie designed by Daniel W. Fletcher go to The Be Well Collective

These hats not only keep your head warm, they also make a good choice for ethical reasons. Each item can be traced and transparently produced using 100% renewable energy. The best thing about each limited-edition design by Daniel W. Fletcher is the fact that 100 percent of its profits go to the Be Well Collective. This charity addresses the rising mental health problems of the younger generation.