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Snuggle into well-being: your guide to winter wellness
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Snuggle into well-being: your guide to winter wellness

Simple and easy steps to make winter a time of warmth and well-being
winter health tips
Representational image | Canva

Think of winter as a time to get under a cosy blanket that keeps us toasty. Taking care of ourselves in this season ought to be as easy and reassuring. Every action we take—from savouring a cup of hot chocolate to seeking quiet moments of warmth and indulging in hearty seasonal foods—contributes to the cosy atmosphere we desire. After all, throughout winter, our well-being merits more care, much like a warm blanket.

Nourishing the body from within

Dietician Bharathi Kumar of Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru, stresses that embracing nature’s seasonal offers is essential for optimum health. “Add healthy fats for warmth and satiety, lean protein for muscle repair, and complex carbs for energy,” suggests Kumar. “For vital vitamins and minerals, don’t forget to eat vivid fruits and vegetables. To be energetic and healthy, strive for diversity and careful eating.”

Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are seasonal foods that are high in vitamin C and strengthen the immune system. Vital vitamins and minerals can be found in leafy greens like kale and spinach. Carrots and beets are two examples of root vegetables that are rich in fibre and antioxidants. As weapons against winter ailments, Kumar suggests including immune-boosting foods like garlic, ginger, and turmeric in the diet. When consumed as part of a balanced diet, these foods assist the body’s defence mechanism.

Wintertime may see a decrease in thirst, but it is still critical to stay hydrated. According to Kumar, “water carries nutrients, supports various bodily functions, and regulates body temperature.” Try to drink eight glasses of water or more a day, and for some extra variation, try herbal teas and warm broths.

“Enjoying seasonal fruits and vegetables not only adds variety to your diet but also ensures a diverse range of nutrients. Winter is the perfect time to savour the richness of nature’s bounty.”

Winter health tips from Kumar

  1. Opt for small portions and savour each bite.
  2. Prioritise home-cooked meals to control ingredients and portion sizes.
  3. Stay active and mindful to balance holiday indulgences without sacrificing your health.

Tackling winter blues

Winter’s charm is not without its dark clouds. The reduction in daylight can cast a shadow on some people’s mental well-being. Dr Sachin Baliga, consultant in psychiatry at Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru, sheds light on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder triggered by reduced daylight hours in winter. “SAD is seen as depression triggered by shorter days and longer nights. It significantly affects winter well-being, akin to how animals hibernate during cold weather.”

A few winter health tips to cope with SAD by Dr Baliga:

  1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule and wake-up time, even on weekends, to regulate your internal clock. This helps manage mood and energy levels.
  2. Physical activity releases endorphins and natural mood boosters. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week.
  3. Combat feelings of isolation by reaching out and staying connected with loved ones. Schedule social activities, join groups, and prioritise quality time with family and friends.
  4. Include mood-boosting foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. Consider vitamin D supplements to address potential deficiencies but only after consulting an expert.
  5. Practices like meditation and yoga can help manage stress and improve mood. Mindfulness helps you stay present and savour the positive aspects of winter.

Furthermore, winters can be stressful as the holiday season approaches.  It can trigger anxiety and worsen existing mental health conditions.

To manage it Dr Baliga advises not to overload your schedule. “It’s okay to decline invitations if you need time for yourself. Prioritise activities that bring you joy and relaxation.” With your loved ones around you, you can delegate tasks and ask for support from them. Sharing responsibilities reduces stress and fosters a sense of shared joy.

It is also important to set realistic goals for celebrations and gift-giving. Avoid comparing yourself to others and prioritise meaningful connections over extravagant gestures.

“Take time for self-care through activities like meditation, journalling, or spending time in nature. These practices help manage stress and promote peace of mind.”

Tweak your self-care routine

Dry and cold temperatures can take a toll on our skin and hair, which will require specialised care. Using hot and dry air to keep ourselves warm during the winters also contributes to extreme loss of hydration from both skin and hair. Moreover, people tend to drink less water, leading to dehydration from within.

Dr Shoba Sudeep, consultant dermatologist, Bengaluru, highlights the importance of winter skincare. “In winters, there is a lack of moisture in the air leading to very dry weather, contributing to various skin and hair issues. Hydration is the key for protecting both skin and hair during winters.”

Extreme loss of hydration contributes to excessive dryness and flakiness of the scalp and skin, and excessive cracking of feet, hands and lips.

“Hydration is the key for protecting both skin and hair during winters. This includes both internal hydration like taking lots of liquids and external hydration like including hydrating products in your skin and hair care routine.”

Winter health tips for hair care by Dr Sudeep

  1. Avoid excessive styling and use of harsh chemicals during winters.
  2. Cover your hair with a loose bandana to protect it from harsh winter weather.
  3. Do not wash hair with very hot water. Try washing it with warm or cool water and use mild shampoos and conditioners. Do deep conditioning once a week.
  4. Keep the scalp hydrated by oiling it one hour before showering.
  5. Always consult a dermatologist if you face any hair or scalp related issues.

Winter health tips for skincare by Dr Sudeep

  1. Use a mild cleanser and avoid harsh face washes with glycolic acid and salicylic acid.
  2. Moisturise twice daily and use SPF during winters as the winter sun can be more harmful than the summer sun.
  3. Include intense repairing lip balm and avoid scrubbing.
  4. A face oil can keep excessively dry skin moisturised.

What does one need to take care of during the winter?

According to Dr Karthiyayini Mahadevan, head, Wellness and Wellbeing at Columbia Pacific Communities, Bengaluru, we need to know how to prepare, face, and move on to the next seasonal rhythm.

Tips by Dr Mahadevan:  

Preparation

  • Avoid consuming heavy, oily foods. Such foods can slow down the digestive system, leading to unwanted accumulation of fat, which can strain the knees and feet.
  • Because winter is a time when we mostly gather indoors, the possibility of the flu and other contagious diseases spreading increases. So, improving our immunity through the right kind of balanced nutrition, sleep, and activity is important.

Welcoming the winter

  • Eat food items which keep you warm. It is not just about eating freshly prepared warm food, but also about adding the right spices to keep us warm from the inside.
  • Eat an early dinner with light soups. This helps us sleep well and supports our immune system.
  • Maintain a daily routine with the right amount of exercise when the sun is shining. This helps us get our daily dose of vitamin D and improves bone health.

Moving on to the next season

  • Keep your body fit by maintaining the ideal weight and not allowing your BMI to increase.
  • Always consume seasonal fruits and vegetables, which will provide adequate micronutrients.

The TLC we all deserve

As winter wraps around us, it is time for a bit of tender loving care (TLC). The key to winter wellness lies in mindful living and self-care. By incorporating these winter health tips into our daily routines we can take care of ourselves. After all, winter is not just a season; it is an opportunity to prioritise our health and well-being. Simple acts, like eating good food and catching some light, become our way of saying ‘yes’ to feeling great.

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