A list of ‘tips and tricks’ to stay safe in Indian winters were churned out, during a casual WhatsApp group conversation for a dear friend (a first-timer to the Himalayas) to assist her in keeping herself safe in the Indian winter season.
The group resonated with my thoughts on journaling these tips and tricks that I suggested, in some written form. So here it is — a post on conquering the gruesome, yet, awesome Indian winter season.
Conquering the Indian Winter Season
According to me, the winter season is the perfect time to explore India. Hence, this post should prove helpful and useful, especially to first-time travellers experiencing the north-Indian winters and for that matter, any sort of winter in the world.
These would prove definitely handy to travellers, tourists, and of course the armed forces fraternity. These Indian winter hacks worked for me and might work for you too to triumph over this season..so let us together beat the Winter blues!
Have an enjoyable Indian winter with these tips
Along with these tips and suggestions to beat the Indian Winter blues and sail through an enjoyable Winter season, I have also put forth some book suggestions. You may want to read my book reviews of these books and then take a call!
After all, winters are incomplete without indulging in some cozy reading, isn’t it?
1) A warm hot water bath is a must
- Come what may bathe every day with ‘not-so-hot water’. Overcome the temptation of a hot water bath that is proven to deplete the skin of its essential oils especially during the winters.
- An application of mustard oil or coconut oil to the body prior to a bath is bound to be very beneficial. Stick to warm-water baths.
- Apply cold cream or body-lotion immediately post bathing. This will keep one’s skin hydrated and prevent the formation of flaky skin, during the harsh winters(lest you end up looking like a snake shedding its skin!)
- Of course, use sunscreen without fail even if the day is gloomy during winters.
- Make use of Glycerine based skin-care recipes that do the trick of keeping the face moisturized in winters. Utilize Google Baba for these recipes.
2) Soak your feet in warm water
- Make a habit of soaking your feet in warm water, enriched with salt/rock-salt, before going to bed in winters. Soaking for even 5-10mins does wonder for the body. It prevents the feet from being prone to frostbites, or if one has already developed a frost-bite, then soaking acts as a cure. The cherry on the cake is the sound sleep post a dip. Try it!
- Frostbite is an injury in which the tissues of the body get damaged due to freezing. Deep frostbites make the skin hard, white/pale, cold, and numb. When rewarmed, the skin may turn blue or purple and this could be extremely painful. I have experienced these frustrating frostbites on my toes. And, the above remedy worked like a charm.
- Never allow a frostbitten part to refreeze. This can result in severely damaging the underlying tissue.
- Also, introspect before warming the skin with the help of dry, radiant heat, like a heat lamp or campfire if your skin appears to be frostbitten. Frostbitten skin can easily get burned.
3) Place a bowl of water
- If using a portable room heater or blower, then place a bowl of water in the room. It is simple science at play here: in winters, the air is drier due to lack of water vapour. This results in dry skin and eyes and may induce static electricity especially while using the mink blankets.
- By evaporating water, you are making the air a little moist/humid. This paves the way to less static electricity, less dust, and keeps the skin hydrated.
4) Ditch multiple thick woollens during the Indian Winters
Yes, do not stuff yourself with thick sweaters and cardigans. Tight clothing can restrict the blood circulation that keeps one warm in winters.
Instead, wear multiple layers of loose clothing. We followed this tip religiously during our trip to Russia.
Reason: The air space between loose-fitting layers of clothing provides much better insulation than bulky layers of woollens. Furthermore, multiple layers can help manage body temperature and prevent overheating.
This helps to accommodate changes in activity and weather as the day progresses.
Ideally, a layer of the base layer followed by an insulating layer and topped with a protective layer should be the dressing sequence during extreme winters.
5) Cover your head, neck, wrists, and ankles areas.
Reason: These areas of the body radiate heat easily and have little body fat for insulation. So use mittens, gloves, scarfs to keep these parts warm during the winters.
I could get back to normalcy only after keeping my face warm by covering it for almost 20 minutes, with a borrowed stole!
6) Include foods that keep the body warm during the Indian winters
A liberal amount of nuts, dry fruits, and ginger should be included in the everyday diet. Devour on seasonal fruits belonging to the citrus family. The Vitamin-C in these fruits will keep cold and flu at bay.
Restrict the intake of coffee, tea, and alcohol as these can dehydrate one’s body. Keep sipping water throughout the day even if not thirsty to keep yourself hydrated. Soups are your best bet!
Sip on this lip-smacking Indian soup
Why don’t you try preparing soups and Rasams (an Indian lentil soup) at home, instead of the preservative-laden store-bought ones? Let me interest you in watching this video on making Instant Rasam
7) Stop imitating the local lifestyle to the ‘T’
Yes, the genes of the mountain people are adapted to climatic conditions at that altitude, unlike yours who has just moved to that height.
So, stay protected and don’t try too hard to do things the local way. Do follow their guidelines and eat what they suggest, though.
8) Use polythene but be responsible
When going out in the snow, try wearing two layers of socks, one over the other. This keeps skin safe from getting frozen during the extreme winter season.
A simple hack could also be to cover each foot with a polythene bag. This usually prevents snow from wetting the feet.
Wear socks even while indoors at home, but do keep them off your feet occasionally, to allow some sunlight on your skin.
9) Do not exercise too hard
An ascent in altitude results in a descent of oxygen levels. But the body’s need for oxygen remains the same. Thus, those who dwell in the plains and visit higher altitudes are often caught by surprise when they go out to exercise- whether it’s trekking, running on the treadmill, swimming, skiing, hiking in the mountains, or taking a jog.
At higher altitudes, due to less availability of oxygen, one may end up gasping for breath if exercises are overdone. So start slow especially during the Indian winter season.
Give your body enough time to get acclimatized to varying altitudes. Do not workout on the first day, for sure!
Exercise regularly without overexerting yourself. Try breathing exercises and Yoga.
Shun the vehicles when in hills. Rely on the feet. Walk to that shop, trek to that nearest destination, and climb the mountains. This should take care of your physical fitness during the Indian winters and even otherwise.
10) Be cautious post a snowfall during Indian winters
Do not try to step out for a day or two, after a snow-fall, without making sure that proper salting of roads is done. Check for precautions in place.
As the snow melts, it gets converted to ice. Hence, the civic authorities often throw rock salt on public roads during winters in India, to avoid the formation of ice. Wear appropriate footwear to overcome those slippery ice roads!
Why this post on the Indian Winter Season?
We as families of the armed forces are shunted from one place to another in a span of years, few months, or sometimes within a few days(exceptional cases).
It is indeed serene and a sign of relief to see the fluffy cloud-kissed mountains, however, acclimatization isn’t easy. Because, as dwellers of the plains, our body isn’t suited for high altitudes. We nomads ought to try ourselves to be flexible and adaptable, lest we become extinct!
In this process, I learned many hacks from local people, some veteran families, and trial-error methods. So, thought of sharing these with my readers.
Explore India during the Indian Winters
The Indian winter season ranges from December to February in the plains of north-India, while in the Himalayan states, it extends from November-March.
Alternately, in south-India, the winter season is quite short. For example, in Tamil Nadu, the winter season starts mid-December and lasts until mid-January, ending with the Pongal festival. This season is known as Maargazhi or Margazhi and is the perfect season to visit Tamil Nadu.
Also, the Indian winter season is a favourable time to explore destinations in Rajasthan, like Alwar, Bhangarh, and Jaipur, as well as to explore the Havelis in this region, often dubbed the ‘open art galleries’.
Of course, I can’t stress enough that the winters are the best time to explore Central India that sees soaring temperatures the rest of the year.
Hope these tips and tricks come in handy while travelling in India or even if staying at home during the Indian winters. Feel free to add your own hacks to beat winters in the comment section as this is not a conclusive list. Share this post to help others. Happy Winters 🙂
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Images’ Source: Pixabay