Sunday, 31 December 2017

Stay Healthy to Stay Happy this Winter

And just like that, winters are upon us! The days are short and nights are long and foggy. You hear stray cats and dogs crying all night out in the streets and the bed when you get into it is as cold as a bucket of ice water.

And though, Christmas makes a big splash followed by New Year celebrations, the fact that December holds a mirror to what's gone by makes things even worse for most people.

The easiest thing seems to be basking in the Sun during the day or sitting in front of the heater / hitting the sack in the evening. Which in turn makes you feel guilty because, you have wasted another day that could have been productive. 

Contrary to urban legend - mostly revered during school and college days - winters are not about hibernation for humans - especially the morning and daytime. Nor are all humans nocturnal beings. 

If anything, winters should propel you into action. The weather is nice after sweating through the heat and wading through buckets of rains it is a welcome change from the heat and dust that ensures that you stay holed up inside or parked yourself near an air conditioner. 

The thing about winter is that it always creeps up on you and like most things that creep up, winter brings with it a whole lot of dissatisfaction when it suddenly jumps on your back.

It took me years to realize that cold and dark weather makes my mood go cold and dark too. It brings with it a feeling of isolation and loneliness. The cozy comforter may not always be the reason why you don't want to get out of bed, depression is a very big reason for wanting to stay put and hide with your favorite pillow. 

It took me almost a week of trying to get up and about but, failing to make it before mid morning to realize all is not well. As I work mostly from home and don't meet 'real' people most of the time, I was virtually sitting ducks for winter to take a pot shot at me.

Once I started feeling irritated with my own habits, I decided to scourge the Internet to check if there was something actually wrong with the pattern I had fallen into - waking up very late, getting too few daylight hours and falling asleep around early morning at 3 or 4 am.

What I found out was kind of scary. I was a prime target for SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Though not as huge a problem in India as it is in places with very less sunlit hours and longer winter, it is not uncommon here either. 

Since I am NOT a psychiatric I shall not try to explain the disorder per say but, that it brings with it mood swings, feeling of lethargy, depression, anxiety and in serious cases, suicidal tendencies.

The next thing that I did was to look for alternatives to break the rhythm. I tried the usual things that one is supposed to do when suffering from depression till I was able to make a dent and break the badly-effected sleep cycle.

If any of you think, you are feeling under the weather too, I would suggest that you try some or all of the things I did to get myself back on the healthy track. These are small things that you can add to your daily routine to make the winter blues melt into the blues.


I don't jog because of the pollution in Delhi but, I walk. If morning is too cold then, take a walk mid-morning or early evening. It's all good. Avoid going out with a bunch of people and gossip because, it will not help at all. Also, don't take the car out for short trips to the market - walk. Walking clears your head and makes happy hormones flow. In short, walk is a great exercise. Try to take in the nature around you when walking. You could also listen to soothing music as you walk to take your mind off distractions.

Practice Discipline

I had once read that Earnest Hemingway used to wake up in  the first hour to write and no matter how wasted his night was, he would not give up this habit. Though I am no Hemingway, I have tried to discipline my life and though I don't need to go anywhere in the morning, I have tried to set a routine to my life. I now wake up with an alarm clock and work during the first half of the day. It usually frees me up by lunch time. I look forward to the evening for pursuing things that give me happiness like watching a movie or reading a book or going out to meet friends and family. Because I have finished my work first, I don't feel any panic to get back to it till the next morning.

Eat Well

Food is the most important reason why humans have probably come this far. Never keep the revered stomach empty. If you are hungry, you are bound to feel low. So, eat well and eat in short intervals to help your metabolism high. Keep the stomach filled with good food - no processed stuff out of the box please. Winter is the best time of the year to buy fresh produce. Eat fresh salads, fruits and dairy products. Drink a lot of water and tea to keep yourself hydrated. The heater sucks out a whole lot of precious water from your body. Remember to keep a bottle of water handy to keep chugging. 

Avoid Alcohol

Try and keep away from the bottle especially if you are on your own. Alcohol dehydrates your body and makes you crave for more because there's no one to talk to. In the end it brings you down. So, keep off. 

Clean Surroundings

If you live alone like me, then the chances are that you don't feel like cleaning up because, there's no one to see. That is a very bad idea. Keep your home neat and clean. You should always feel happy and welcome in your surroundings. A clean and tastefully done home gives out good vibes and makes you happy. So, clean up fast especially the areas most in use starting with your home office to your bedroom to kitchen and bathroom. 

Smell Great

It goes without saying that you should take regular baths. But, try and keep the area around you smelling nice. You can burn incense, oil or just use a room spray that makes your nose happy. I was recommended camphor by a good friend and have realized that using it on a vaporizer helps not only to perk up the mood but also, fight clogged nose and keep bugs away. It makes me feel energized and happy too.

Pick up a Hobby

Or two. I can never recommend it enough especially if you are an introvert like me. Hobbies keep you happy and can be anything that interest you. Even feeding the strays in your area. It need not be highbrow or expensive. You can just doodle on a notepad and see what comes off and even that will give you a sense of achievement and a high.


Do whatever it takes to exercise your facial muscles. You can join the local laughter club, read funny books, subscribe to websites that send jokes in your inbox or watch a sitcom. Whatever it takes, laugh as much as you can. Personally, I interact with little children to crack me up. Their antics are enough to make you laugh for a whole day. After all, laughter, they say, is the best medicine.


Cook as often as you can instead of opening a can or cutting a carton. Cooking is a fine therapy and the sight and smell of home-cooked food is an instant pick-me-up.

Pamper Yourself 

Don't feel bad to take a day off for relaxation. Go for a spa or use DIY masks at home everyday. The idea is to keep you looking good to create a happy self-image.

Join a Group

If you don't have a great number of friends because you have shifted base, then don't despair. Join a local group of people pursuing the same interests as you. It can be a book reading club, a Yoga group, a group of nature lovers or cleanliness volunteers. The more people you meet the better.


Giving really makes you feel instantly happy. Join a group of volunteers or go on your own to the local old age home or orphanage to help out. Nothing is too small. Even feeding the birds in your balcony can bring in immense satisfaction. Give it a try.


This is the most difficult thing to do for most so, I kept it for the last. But, meditation, especially when done as a group activity can really change your outlook. Try and get into a meditation group if you can but, if that is not possible, go on YouTube and channel your inner self towards positive energies. It is not too difficult once you have conquered discipline and cleaned up your environment. Try it for keeping the head clean to be able to fight the negativity in you. It is really important to know your own self to make a change in your situation.

The most important trick is to be grateful for whatever you have and feel thankful for the glass half-filled.

Be safe and most of all, be happy. 

Do share your own experiences (if any) in the comments section or, if my hacks helped you fight the freeze any better.

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