Beat the winter blues

By Dr Savitha Suri

Dec 6, 2015: Long nights, short days, sparkling snowflakes and warm clothes? Winter is the time of the year for us to retreat. During this season we should build up our immunity with tonic foods and herbs as winters may cause health problems if adequate precautions and safety measures are not taken. If you wish to enjoy the chilly weather to the fullest, you should make some changes in your diet and lifestyle. As we are part of nature these changes will help us face the seasonal changes without much serious health problems.

Few experience a condition called ?winter blues?. 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 seen among people who live in places with 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. So keep a watch on the type of food you consume during this season. Avoid junk foods, too much of sweets and oily food as they lead to weight gain.

You can expose your body to sunlight to avoid this condition. Also exercising for 30 minutes and using bright light when you are indoors may take care of the problem to some extent.

Mix yellow gram (channa), green gram (moong), fenugreek seeds (methi) in equal proportion. Ground this mixture. Use the powder as a scrub while taking bath instead of soap and body washes.
Mix a few drops of coconut oil in a little water. Rub this all over the body after your bath. Dab the body with a soft towel. This helps to increase the moisture of the skin naturally.

Stay warm & healthy

Lots of warm nourishing soups with winter vegetables, beets, carrots, winter squash, mushrooms, onions and garlic should dominate your meals. Whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, seasonal fruits, and high quality oils should also find place in your diet. You will also benefit from herbs and spices that will keep you warm. These help to burn up excess mucous in the system. Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, onion, rosemary, basil, mustard seeds are all warming spices.

Pamper your skin

During winter, the skin cannot replenish it?s moisture naturally due to less humidity in the air. Low humidity due to indoor heating, hot showers and bath exaggerates this condition and the skin is bound to become dry and irritated. Dry skin tends to crack and bleed.

Cracked skin loses its ability to protect the body and increases the risk of infection. To keep the skin soft, healthy and moisturised:

  • Avoid long, hot showers
  • Use moisturising body wash
  • Apply petroleum jelly on tough areas like knees,elbows and heels
  • Apply lip balm to prevent cracking
  • 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise, three times a week, can give your skin a healthy glow
  • Massage the body with oil during winter
  • Avoid washing your face repeatedly as it washes off natural oils from your skin and makes it dry, scaly and wrinkled. Use luke warm water instead of hot water to wash your face.
  • Apply moisturiser lotion if you feel dryness.
  • Use sunscreen lotion to exposed parts of the body and face when you go out.
  • The skin on your feet tends to dry and crack more in winter. Treat your feet to a relaxing soak at night, three times a week.
  • Herbs like amla (Indian gooseberry) is rich in vitamin C and nourishes the deeper layers of the skin.
  • Take amla, on a regular basis to replenish skin from within.

Keep away from cold and cough

Ginger tea added with lemon juice and honey will increase your metabolism and prevent cold, cough and sore throats. Gargle with some warm water and turmeric at the first sign of a sore throat.

Take well-balanced, nutritious food. Exercise thrice a week and sleep well to build up natural resistance. Avoid direct contact with those who have cold and wash your hands frequently.


Hypothermia is a drop in body temperature to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or less. This can be fatal if not detected on time and treated properly. Anybody can suffer from hypothermia. The elderly are at the higher risk, as their bodies take time to adjust to the changes in temperature. In such condition, the blood vessels near the body surface get narrow to prevent heat loss. Muscles tighten to generate heat. The affected person will show symptoms like shivering, drowsiness, slurred speech, weak pulse, slow heartbeat, and slow and shallow breathing. If the body temperature falls below 86 degree F, he may slip into coma.

Do not try to treat a person with hypothermia at home. Shift him to the hospital as soon as you notice the symptoms. Do not give alcoholic beverages and hot water bath. In ayurveda, it is advised to drink hot water, wear warm clothes and stay near a fireplace to prevent this condition.


The exposed body parts like the face, feet, wrists and hands are affected by frostbite. The skin on the affected part becomes white, stiff and feels numb.

Wrap the affected area with warm clothes. Do not rub the affected areas as it may damage the underlying tissues.

Protect your tiny tots

To ensure that your children have a safe winter, take some simple measures to keep them warm. Ensure that they stay warm while waiting for the school bus in the morning. Keep them as dry as possible and make them 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 the winter.

Note: This material is educational and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical concern, please consult your physician.

Dr Savitha Suri is an ayurvedic practitioner.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own. None of the facts and figures mentioned in the story have been created by is not responsible for any factual errors. This article was first published in Joyful Living magazine, sister publication of


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