Tips For Surviving The Winter With AS
I’ve never been the biggest fan of winter. Deep down I’m a massive child who just wants to wear shorts and a football shirt. All this freezing outside in a big coat and jumper has never sat well with me.
Since I’ve been living with ankylosing spondylitis, I have hated winters for more reasons than the outfit choices that I am forced into. My pain and fatigue levels skyrocket when the temperature drops and year on year I struggle more making it into spring. I know that this is a similar situation for most of us with AS, so I thought I’d share some of the things I do to help make the colder months as painless as possible.
I am absolutely stating the obvious here, but making sure you keep warm during the winter period is the most important thing. I like to start my winter days with a hot bath filled with Epsom salts. I make sure that the heating is on before I jump in the tub. This is because going from a steaming hot bath to a freezing cold room can sometimes undo all of the good that the bath did in the first place. I make sure that the post bath transition is as pain free as possible.
Making sure that your wardrobe is winter ready is crucial too. I spend most of my clothing budget for the year on things like coats, jumpers, and woolly hats so that whatever time I do spend outside, has less of a chance of making my life painful. Although it does pain me that I can’t spend my days rocking miscellaneous soccer jerseys, I know that it gives me a better chance of feeling able to go out in them when the warm weather finally returns.
I have also invested in some long johns, which are not the sexiest piece of underwear that I own, but they certainly show some mercy on my joints and help me get through days out in the cold.
Everybody with AS knows that this condition is an unpredictable one, and how we are feeling can change in the blink of an eye. This is particularly true when the temperature is creeping down low. The cold is always looking for ways to add some extra pain and suffering into the mix, so make sure that you’re ready for if and when that happens.
During the winter period, I don’t leave the house without my fold up walking stick, just in case my body decides to stop working halfway through the day. I also keep a mini flare kit in my bag full of pain killers and goodies like tiger balm and heating pads that are good at keeping my pain levels in check.
I strongly suggest doing some a trial and error with things that manage your pain well and keep them handy when you do venture out into the cold.
Getting up to cook a nutritious meal can feel like an ordeal, especially when you’re tired and in cold induced pain. But it is vital to ensure your body stays nourished so you have the best chance of dodging flare ups until Spring.
One life hack is to make the most of any low pain day that swings our way & making a bunch of nutrient rich meals in one go. That way you only have to heat these up when those tough days inevitably turn up. My go to meals in this situation are noodle soups with vegetables and tofu and casserole type meals with a nice dose of anti-inflammatory inside them like ginger and turmeric.
There is never a great deal of vitamin D available where I live thanks to the rainy British climate, but during the winter it is even more scarce. That is why I make sure that I make sure that I have stocked up on vitamin supplements when the end of year turns up to try and bribe my body with healthy nutrients so that it maybe thinks twice about punishing me with a flare up.
Don’t be afraid to rest
It can be tempting to not want to miss out on all of the festivities at this time of year, but it’s important to know your limits. Don’t force yourself into a FOMO festive flare up. Never beat yourself up if you are not feeling up to sticking to all of your plans.
I usually look through all of my forthcoming social events & put them in a tier system based on how desperate I am to attend. I try to save my spoons for the ones that sound the most fun and then see how I‘m feeling on the day for the rest. Of course sometimes even these priority events come around and my body is not on board for it. On these occasions, I try to come up with low energy alternatives to do inside, or find a new series to binge in the warmth of my bed instead.
What are your tips for surviving the winter months with ankylosing spondylitis? Let me know in the comment section below.
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