Long nights, short days, sparkling snow flakes and people dressed in warm clothes are the images evoked for the word winter. The winter season is marked as Hemanta ritu in ayurveda. Hemanta ritu starts from mid November and ends in mid January. This falls in southern solastice which is called as visarga kala or dakshinayana in ayurveda.
Winter causes health problems when adequate precautions and safety measures are not taken. But winters can be enjoyed to full extent when we alter our diet and lifestyles a little as nature desires. As we are part of nature these changes help us to face the seasonal changes without much serious health problems.
Bell the winter time Blues
Few experience a condition called Winter Time Blues or winter depression. This condition precipitates symptoms like increase in appetite, craving for sweets, chocolates or starchy foods, weight gain, mild depression, irritability and short temper. This condition is well marked in persons who live in places which experience long severe winter.
In winter the agni or body fire increases with the support of vata . Hence there will be a marked increase in appetite. The frequency of food consumption increases. We should keep a watch on the type of food we consume to satisfy our appetite during winter. Avoid consumption of junk foods, too much of sweets and oil food as these lead to weight gain.
Simple remedies for this condition are exposing our body to sunlight, exercising for 30 minutes and using bright light when you are indoors
Pamper your skin in winter
During winter skin can not replenish its moisture naturally due to less humidity in air. Low humidity due to indoor heating, hot showers and bath exaggerates this condition and skin is bound to become dry and irritated. Dry skin tends to crack and bleed. Cracked skin looses its ability to protect the body and increases the risk of infection. The best ways to keep the skin soft, healthy and moisturized are
• Avoid long hot showers and bath.
• Quick three minutes bath is advisable.
• Use moisturizing body wash.
• Apply petroleum jelly on tough areas like knees, elbows and heels .
• Apply lip balm to prevent cracking.
• Twenty to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week can give your skin a healthy glow
• Ayurveda stresses on massaging body with oil during winter
Special care for face
Avoid repeated washing of face. This washes off natural oils from our skin and makes the skin dry, scaly and wrinkled. Use luke warm water instead of hot water to wash face. Apply moisturizer lotion if you feel dryness on skin. Apply sun screen lotion to exposed parts of body and face when you go out in sun.
Preventing cold and cough in winter. Consume well balanced good nutritious food, exercise thrice in a week and sleep well to keep up natural resistance. Avoid direct contact with those who have colds and wash your hands frequently.
Hypothermia is a drop in body temperature to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or less than this. This can be fatal if not detected promptly and treated properly. Any body can be the victim of hypothermia. The elderly are at the highest risk as their bodies do not adjust to the changes in temperature quickly. This condition takes few days to few weeks to develop. A temperature of 60F to 65 F can trigger this condition. A drop in body temperature triggers fatal responses from body. The blood vessels near the body surface narrow to prevent heat loss. Muscles tighten to generate heat. Person affected by hypothermia will be having symptoms like shivering, drowsiness, slurred speech, week pulse, slow heart beat, slow and shallow breathing. If the body temperature falls down below 86 F he may slip into coma.
Do not try to treat a person with hypothermia at home. Immediately shift him to hospital as soon as you notice the symptoms. Do not give alcoholic beverages and do not give him hot water bath.
In ayurveda it is advised to drink hot water, wear warm clothes and to stay near fire place at indoors in winter to prevent this condition.
The exposed areas of body like face, feet, wrists and hands are affected by frost bite. The skin on the affected part becomes white, stiff and feels numb.
Warm the affected parts gradually. Wrap the area with warm clothes or keep the affected hands under arm pits and seek the medical attention immediately. Do not rub the affected areas as it may damage the underlying tissues.
Protect your Tiny tots from cold.
Children are usually thrilled to go outside irrespective of weather conditions. To ensure that these tiny tots have a safe and fun winter, take some simple measures to keep them warm and unharmed both inside and outside. Ensure that they stay warm while waiting for school bus in low temperature conditions. Keep them as dry as possible in cold weather and make them to wear properly fitting warm clothes. Cover their head, face and neck as much as possible. Inadequate head protection lead to loss of almost half of body heat . Don’t allow them to overexert and sweat. Sweating cools the body which is hazardous in winter and it becomes difficult to warm up again. Keep them well hydrated as they may not drink sufficient water in winter due to less thirst.
Other general precautions by Red Cross for winter.
- Dress in layers so you can adjust to changing conditions. Avoid overdressing or overexertion that can lead to heat illness.
- Most of your body heat is lost through your head so wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.
- Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.
- Wear waterproof, insulated boots to help avoid hypothermia or frostbite by keeping your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
- Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm the core body temperature with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol if you expect you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite.
- Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia that can be a serious medical condition: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.
- Recognize frostbite warning signs: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.
Daily routine for winter
1. Tickle your taste buds with sweet, sour and salt tastes.
2. Satisfy your appetite with hot soups, milk and balanced food.
3. Pamper your body with mild oil massage.
4. Always wear warm clothes.
Home made natural scrub for winter.
Mix yellow gram (channa), green gram (moong) , fenu greek seeds (methi) in equal proportion. Get this mixture floured. Use this flour as scrub while taking bath instead of soap and body washes.
Mix few drops of coconut oil in little water. Rub this all over body at the end of bath or shower. Dab the body with towel. This helps to increase the moisture of skin naturally.