For Fibromyalgia sufferers, every season presents its challenges, but Winters are particularly difficult. Not only does the cold and damp tense up muscles and increase pain; it also triggers a whole load of other knock on effects:
- The lack of sunlight and the short days make you depressed. And because of the weather, you’re often stuck indoors which doesn’t make you feel any better
- Because you’re stuck indoors, you get less exercise. This and a lack of fresh air can also make you feel lethargic
- The weather can be very changeable with mild days followed by freezing days. The temperature and pressure changes in themselves can trigger aches and pain
- When it snows or if it gets icy, it can feel like you’re under virtual house arrest, cutting you off from your vital support network of friends and family
- And then there is the ever present fear of slipping on icy pavements
So the question is, how can you stay in control of your life without the winter taking over your life?
Here are 4 key tips to survive the Winter:
- Ensure you dress appropriately for Winter: Wear plenty of layers of clothing! Layering your clothes traps air between the layers and increases the amount of insulation they provide. If the temperature climbs, you can simply strip off the extra layers. Buy a pair of insulated boots. Either get boots that already have lining, or use boots two sizes larger than usual, and use a lining. Consider getting warm winter socks. Alternatively, you can layer the socks, but be careful that your feet are comfortable and the circulation isn’t shut down. Invest in a good quality coat or jacket. Generally speaking, the thicker the better. While it’s a myth that most body heat escapes through the head, it really does help to keep your head covered. Fingers and hands are very vulnerable to the cold, so keep them covered too. If you can, invest in a pair of Thinsulate gloves. Above all, keep dry. The chill sets in a lot more quickly when you’re wet. Have waterproof or at least water resistant outer layers.
- Surviving the short days: Consider buying a SAD light: SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern and usually occurs during the winter. The exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, but is thought to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of the year. It can make you feel tired, stressed and unhappy. However, it can usually be successfully treated using SAD lights. It involves sitting in front of, or beneath, a light box. Light boxes produce a very bright light and come in a variety of designs, including desk lamps and wall-mounted fixtures. Before using SAD light, speak to your GP and check the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Coping with Isolation can be one of the most challenging aspects of winter. When it’s cold or icy, you may not want to leave the house, but you don’t want to lose touch with your support networks either. This where Twitter or Facebook make a huge difference (and keep you sane!). Fibromyalgia UK has a comprehensive list of regional support groups as well as a forum (with over 12000 users) where you can chat to like-minded sufferers. You can also our follow our own Twitter list of support groups.
- Compensating for lack of Exercise: A lot of our exercise can come from simple things like walking to the shops or accompanying your kids to school, but if it’s cold or if there’s snow or ice on the ground, you simply may not want to risk going out. You can compensate for this by carrying out a wide range of indoor exercises from aerobics to yoga. This is where Youtube becomes enormously helpful. Just search for “Fibromyalgia exercises” and you will find numerous videos from. The last time we searched on Youtube, we found over 11,000 results. Plenty to keep you active!
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