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Self-Care to Rejuvenate and Nourish this Winter!

  • 14 December 2021

Winters according to Ayurveda is a Kapha season (for late winter or Shishir; though early winter or Hemant is Vata) and is cold, chilly with moisture in form of fog, mist and snow. It is generally a period of lethargy with a seasonal tendency towards loneliness.  

It is believed that winters is essentially a period to direct your energies inwards and use this period to relax, reflect and repose to retrieve all the spent energy over the year and revive for the next one. It is also a crucial time for you to focus on self- care, and nourishing yourself.

Here we enlist a few simple self-care tips for you to enjoy the winters while also ensuring mental and physical readiness to successfully cope with the season.  

1. Strengthen Body Immunity or Bala

Winters is associated with cold, flu and other contagious diseases. It is well known that a strong immune system is critical for winter wellness. Ayurveda characterizes immunity or Bala into 3 types

  1. Sahajabala or natural immunity (genetic and inborn resistance),
  2. Kalajabala (seasonal/ planetary shifts or age related
  3. Yuktikrutabala (lifestyle related including diet and exercise)

To ensure strong immunity for overall wellness, ayurveda emphasizes following a daily regime or Dinacharya and seasonal regime or Ritucharya. While balanced Kapha is essential for lubricated joints, soft skin and immunity; excess of Kapha is associated with dullness, weight gain, and mucus-related illnesses such as cold, phlegm, congestion. Vata is also aggravated in the cold, dry winter weather leading to issues such as joint pain, dryness and indigestion. Thus, the Ayurvedic diet aims to pacify both vata and kapha in winters.

Intake of Turmeric or Golden Milk; Chyawanprash with nutrient rich herbs and minerals; and Herbal teas are beneficial. Opt for Herbal teas with dried ginger, lemon, cinnamon, and cloves. “Golden Milk” helps to stay warm and strong. You can also add cinnamon powder and cardamom powder to make it more effective. 

Certain herbs such a Ginger, Turmeric, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg, besides Honey and Tulsi can help keep the body warm and maintain the digestive fire or Agni in the body. Adding pure Cow Ghee is also proved to be beneficial.  Hot spices such as Garlic, Black pepper and Chili peppers are also well received by the body.

Also known as Winter Cherry, Aswagandha has tremendous rejuvenating properties and helps cure fatigue, stress, weakness, tumors, shortness of breath, and sleeplessness.

Nourish your body with intake of fresh, green leafy vegetables such as spinach besides carrots, radish, beets, as well as other root-based vegetables such as asparagus, and sweet potatoes- steamed, boiled or otherwise.  Some of the popular winter meals include bathua, palak, mooli, methi parathas; saag with millets such as makki or bajra; fresh vegetables pickles; moong dal or bajra khichadi; sesame, methi, gond and aata laddus besides the popular gajar halwa or moong dal halwa. Variety of Gajaks besides jaggery with Ghee also provide nutrition to the body.

Dry fruits including Soaked Almonds, Dates, Cashews, and Walnuts are a must for winters to not only give energy but also provide the much-needed heat in the body. Avocado, Figs, and Sesame Seeds are also beneficial.

2. Watch your Eating Habits

Sweet, sour, and salty foods are preferred in winters. Always prefer warm, well cooked, slightly oily, well-spiced fresh and seasonal foods.

Cold and frozen foods are best avoided besides foods that are damp, or excessively sweet, heavy, or oily. Digestion is weaker and cold food could lead to issues such as indigestion.

Winters is also a time when water intake is less, leading to dehydration. It is recommended to include ample amounts of seasonal fruits such as Apple, Oranges, Guava, Pomegranates, and Cantaloupe; drink 8-10 glasses of water (warm or at room temperature) besides an increased intake of herbal teas and fresh, warm soups every day. Remember to always sip your water instead of gulping a lot of it at once.  Avoid cool or chilly drinks

3. Relax, Retrieve and Revive

Hot and deep body Massages are well known to help calm the mind, relieve stress and improve quality of sleep.

A massage with heated Mustard oil helps stay warm besides keeping joints supple, muscles toned and body’s temperature regulated. Suitable for all skin types, Sesame oil also helps reduce inflammation, infections and acne and other skin allergies. The oil also helps revitalize dry skin and helps restore its natural oil balance.  

If possible, relax and get adequate sleep by getting to bed earlier and rising a little later as the sun rises as this is supportive to good health at this time of year.

4. Follow Skin and Hair Care Regimes

During winters, the air around us becomes dry and there is less sebum secretion in our bodies which deprive our skin of the much-needed moisture and necessary oils and our skin becomes dry and flaky. Frizzy, dull hair and dandruff is another common concern during winters.

If possible, layer your skin with oil before your shower. Adding a cap of oil in bucket of warm water while bathing also helps manage the winter dryness. Avoid hot water as it dries the skin. Hot water for hair wash is a strict no!

Post your bath, generously apply a good body butter or cream on damp skin to lock moisture and keep the skin soft and supple.

Additionally, applying a good night cream on skin before going to bed also helps the skin rejuvenate while you sleep.

For Dry, chapped and dark lips, it is best to opt for natural moisturizing lip balms to keep the lips hydrated, healthy and nourished.

Coconut oil helps treat dry, flaky skin, cracked heels, chapped elbows and lips besides being effective in treating rashes and minor skin infections. Hair massage with warm Coconut oil also helps nourish and manage dry and frizzy hair. Almond oil is also effective in curing skin dryness and helps keep it soft and moisturized.

A number of Ayurveda Face packs comprising ingredients such as Milk, Honey, Aloe Vera, and Bananas are also helpful in bringing a natural radiant glow on your face.

5. Stay Active

Various YOGA Asanas help engage, stimulate and strengthen muscles, increase blood circulation, improve digestion, remove toxins, and improve lungs.

Meditation and Pranayama help de-stress and rejuvenate.

Winters is also a good time to bask in the sun while providing the body with much needed Vitamin D; but don’t forget to layer your skin with safe, natural sunscreens.

And Lastly …

While stepping out in the cold, always cover your ears, neck, and head with a scarf or hat. Avoid skin rashes and itchiness by first opting for light breathable fabrics on skin and then adding subsequent layers of warm clothes on the top. And of course, wear socks to retain body heat!