I would love winter if I didn’t have chronic pain. It’s so lovely to cuddle up under a massive blanket with a mug of hot chocolate. Being warm and cozy is one of my favourite things, and it just doesn’t feel the same any other time of year.
Unfortunately, winter is the time when my chronic pain decides to rear its ugly head. The cold has a huge effect on my fibromyalgia, making my joints fire up with aches. My relaxing nights snuggled up by the fireplace are somewhat less comfortable due to the pain in my body.
I realise I might be isolating some of my Northern Hemisphere viewers, but during my summer I never want to think about those miserable winter mornings.
But this is a problem that occurs every year, so hopefully this will reach someone when they need it. As I’m writing this, I’m pretty deep in a fibromyalgia flare-up, and all of these things are on my mind.
1. Heat Pads
These have been my lifeline through many awful winters. I usually sleep with a wheat pack, but if my pain is bad I’ll heat it up through the day to keep me extra warm. My friend recently made me some adorable hand-warms which are just the perfect size to rest on my hands while I’m typing. Comfortable and functional!
Jokes aside, applying heat to painful spots is the most effective method of pain management for me, personally. Ice packs are also recommended for chronic pain, but in the middle of winter that might not be preferable.
2. Compression Gloves
This should be in the toolbox of every person with chronic pain! I’m actually due for a new pair because I wore mine out last year. Compression gloves help regulate the circulation in your hands and reduce inflammation, which makes them perfect for arthritis. They come in all kinds of materials, and you can get them for a bunch of different prices depending on your budget.
3. Hot Drinks
As soon as I start feeling those winter aches, I go to put on the kettle. There’s nothing better than a hot drink to warm you up from head to toe. My preference is a good cup of English breakfast tea with milk, but there are all kinds of herbals teas that can help with chronic pain and ailments of all sorts. And a decadent hot chocolate is just good for the soul.
4. Comfort Items
These aren’t mobility aids or any kind of medicine, but they’re just nice to have. My weighted blanket works similarly to compression gloves; it helps my circulation and is great pressure therapy. Mine has a bamboo cover that stays cool during summer, but it still plenty warm in the winter with my electric blanket.
As I’m always complaining about my cold feet, my friend bought me some heated socks. These are usually worn by hikers to get them through rough conditions, but I happily use them to warm me up in winter mornings. I always feel that if my feet are cold, it’s nearly impossible for the rest of me to warm up.
I also like to sit with a pillow on my chair, or one on my lap if I’m using my laptop without a desk. This is because I have terrible posture, and having that extra support can make a world of different regarding my back pain.
5. Comfort Food
This one falls more under “guilty pleasures” than actual helpful advice, but it gets me through. When you’re having a bad flare-up and can’t do much more than lie in bed and wait for the pain to cease, sometimes you need to indulge into something incredibly rich and chocolatey. You’re allowed to treat yourself on occasion, especially when you’re suffering. When your entire body is fighting against you, it’s not a bad thing to give yourself something nice to ease the pain just a little bit.
Obviously there are a multitude of ways to help with chronic pain during winter, but these are what works for me. I’m sure everyone with a chronic illness has gone through times when they’ve tried to ignore their pain. Pushing through feels like the pain feels like the brave thing to do, but it’s much braver to take care of yourself and acknowledge what you’re going through. The faster you work on healing, the quicker you can return to your normal pace. Winter is hard, but spring is always around the corner!