Those who are in really cold weather right now and experiencing the height of winter will probably give me that look. My son did. His campus is in a place that’s freezing right now. I know exactly how cold because I spent a few days there and just got back.
This time, I overestimated my ability to withstand the cold and thought I could manage with only one jacket and a shawl. Bad thinking. Luckily I carried full-sleeved clothes that included a dupatta—a long scarf—as an accessory and just about managed, although my nose and fingers felt numb most of the time.
Needless to say, the coffee machine was rather busy during my visit.
Winter is an anticipated season, especially when it follows a particularly warm summer since you can say goodbye to the sweat and discomfort. However, in recent years, winter months in North India have become synonymous with pollution and a series of health warnings. People are more susceptible to colds, allergies, and infection. While there are many ways to feel better, experiencing these can make you feel lethargic and leave you in a bitter mood.
How to throw off that cozy quilt and wake up happy every morning?
This was a serious topic of discussion with our son, who has to be in class at 8 am every morning—a bit of a challenge when the visibility beyond three feet is nil due to the fog.
And while I secretly feel it would be great if he were home, here are seven tips I gave him. If your kids are studying on campus, now may be a good time to share this with them!
The first thing is to stay warm enough to sleep soundly. When you’re freezing, it isn’t easy to fall asleep since the body needs to reach an optimum temperature. First, we got him a good quality padded quilt. Next, a room heater. Thanks to technology, appliances like room heaters are now innovative and sophisticated. The electrical heater is noiseless with an inbuilt thermostat system and will allow him to sleep comfortably through the night. Also, no worries about the soaring electrical bill, since the appliance is energy efficient.
A warm bath before bedtime
Sure, a bath is generally a morning ritual, but with the sleeping late and having to wake up early, it is a better idea to catch a relaxing hot bath before bedtime. It washes away the fatigue from the day. Also, any nasal congestion, cold or blocked noses which are the bane of winter will also benefit from this. This makes way for better sleep. A hot shower also lets the steam soothe the lungs and relaxes the muscles, making way for a peaceful sleep. And it goes without saying that good hygiene is a must.
Cold weather is no excuse for skipping exercise, although that’s the easiest thing to do. Outdoor activities may seem easier to postpone or strike off from the routine altogether because snuggling in bed can look so much more attractive. Winter is also the time when we tend to snack on high-calorie food. Samosas, pakoras come to mind. All the more reason to make a conscious effort to get moving. The lack of activity can have an effect on the mood. I’ve suggested a minimum of 30 minutes of brisk walking, seven days a week. And if inspired by that activity, just slip into the gym for a workout. I’ve told him to avoid exercise every early in the morning or very late at night for obvious reasons. Of course, there’s yoga, which is a great option.
Thanks to the festivities during this time, it can be so easy to pile on that weight. While enjoying festive food is non-negotiable, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the diet. Snacking smart by staying away from starchy fried snacks and drinking enough water is important. It is convenient to reach for that bag of chips or fries and equally easy to avoid drinking water since we don’t feel as thirsty in cold weather. However, the body does need water no matter what the weather, and it is crucial to be conscious of it. Staying hydrated keeps the skin healthy and prevents headaches and dizziness.
And talking of skin…
Winter skin can be awful to deal with! I’ve seen people’s skin literally flake off. As someone who suffers from dry skin—you wouldn’t know it because I keep it well moisturized—I cannot emphasize enough the importance of massaging the skin with oil/cream/lotion, whatever works. Winter also welcomes dandruff, so it is equally critical to keep the scalp nourished. These days there are non-sticky products that make this easy. Dry skin paves the way for itchy skin which in turn results in scratching and breaking the skin. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. I’ve made sure my son is well-stocked with skin care oils and lotions. And carrying a tube of Vaseline is a must in the bag! Chapped lips are not cute!
Vitamins and Supplements
Rising pollution levels may prompt you to stay indoors, and while the respiratory tract will benefit from this, it is also important to get some sun exposure to avoid vitamin D deficiency. There’s also the likelihood of lowered immunity during winter. And it is no fun falling sick! To prevent nutritional deficiency, it is a good idea to take vitamin supplements prescribed by the doctor. Going for over the counter medication can lead to health issues. We have a homemade concoction to ensure our son gets the necessary nutrients, especially vitamin C, which is so important to be healthy at this time.
Covering up well
Yes, so easy to not want to keep those socks, gloves and woolen caps on. Easier still to avoid the thermals. But when the alternative is to freeze and practically hand out an invitation to fall sick, it is absolutely mandatory to stay warm. I particularly advised him to always have his socks on, and keep his ears and chest covered.
All said and done, winter is a time to realign our lifestyle, habits, and diet. The days are shorter and the mercury can dip uncomfortably low. For our son, it is the start of a new semester and a hectic schedule, what with the annual college fest coming up next month. To make himself less prone to illness and lethargy, he has to take steps to be mentally and physically fit.
And enjoy life. If we don’t take care of ourselves, who will?