As the autumn leaves in the picturesque valleys of Kashmir give way to the cold, stark beauty of winter, it is crucial for the inhabitants to adapt and prepare for the challenges that accompany this season. The winter months in Kashmir are not merely about the enchanting snowfall and the allure of snow-clad landscapes; they bring with them a unique set of health risks that need to be addressed proactively.
The winter in Kashmir, with its sub-zero temperatures, can stretch from November to as late as March. During this period, the risk of developing respiratory problems, heart ailments, joint pain, and other health issues increases significantly. Therefore, the importance of winter precautions for healthy living cannot be overstated.
Firstly, maintaining a balanced diet is crucial. In the cold, the body tends to burn more calories to keep warm, resulting in an increased appetite. While it is tempting to give in to cravings for traditional winter comfort foods, it is vital to ensure that the diet is rich in vitamins and nutrients. Incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables, dry fruits, and keeping oneself hydrated can significantly enhance immunity and energy levels. Moreover, traditional Kashmiri dishes like Harissa and Kahwa not only provide warmth but are also packed with health benefits.
Furthermore, physical activity should not take a backseat during this season. While the cold weather might discourage outdoor activities, it is essential to engage in regular exercise to keep the body active and boost metabolism. Indoor exercises, yoga, or even routine household chores can serve the purpose.
Another crucial aspect is the proper use of heating devices. Kangris (traditional fire pots) and other space heaters are commonly used to counter the biting cold. However, they also pose risks like burns, fire accidents, and carbon monoxide poisoning if not used carefully. Proper ventilation in rooms, regular cleaning of heating devices, and keeping them out of children's reach are essential safety measures.
Winter months in Kashmir also witness an increase in mental health issues. The lack of sunlight and the cold, dreary weather can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. To combat this, maintaining a regular routine, staying connected with loved ones, and seeking professional help when required can prove beneficial.
Lastly, while we continue our fight against the ongoing pandemic, it is crucial not to neglect COVID-19 safety protocols. The cold weather can increase the virus's survival and transmission rates, making it all the more essential to adhere to practices like wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and regular sanitization.
Winter in Kashmir does demand extra care and precautions, but it should not dampen the spirit of its residents. Instead, it should be seen as an opportunity to adopt healthier living practices and to enjoy the season's unique charm responsibly. Let's not allow the winter cold to overshadow the warmth of health and happiness. Embrace the season with caution and care, and winter in Kashmir can be as enchanting and joyous as it is meant to be.
(Author is a certified personal fitness trainer and working in New Delhi)