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A distracted woman of color leaning on her hand in front of a laptop computer looking longingly out of the cold window. In the window is a dull grey scene that includes a bare Christmas tree on the curb.

It’s January. . .Now What??

We survived the holidays!! We even had fun, because we planned ahead. Now it’s January. The landscape is barren, white or grey, devoid of life. It’s a new year, but it’s more of the same. Nothing’s changed. “Adulting” is hard. “Adulting” with rheumatoid disease is harder.

Winter and the post-holiday blues

For years I have struggled with the winter blahs. All the excitement of the holiday season comes crashing down. Most of us are recuperating in one way or another. It’s cold outside and we don’t want to venture out. When we do, it requires layers of clothing which weigh us down and make it even harder to move.

I’ve always thought of winter as “dead” time. Recently, a pastor shared with me a new way of thinking. During the winter, plants become dormant and store up energy. They care for themselves knowing that soon they will be blooming and growing. Their roots grow more and become stronger. They prepare for the season ahead.

A new way of thinking

What if we looked at our winter season the same way? What would it look like? How would it help? Perhaps winter is the best time for strengthening and growing our roots. Maybe having long phone calls instead of outings is a way to nurture ourselves and grow our roots. Preparing for the seasons ahead by having downtime to regroup and make plans. Reading books under cozy blankets can provide travel to faraway places and a friend in time of need.

Using winter as a time to plan ahead

Planning for the year to come is best done in quiet rest. Winter is the perfect time for that. Looking back at our calendar from last year reveals much. We can see our patterns emerge. Just like when a root realizes it has to choose a different path, we may realize that three events in one week usually results in a flare or an illness. Seeing through hindsight allows us to adjust for the year ahead. Winter provides that time.

A new outlook

While I can’t say I’m thrilled about winter this year, I am approaching it with a much-improved attitude. I look forward to what I will learn. A positive outlook is so crucial to our battle with rheumatoid disease. I have looked up numerous Crockpot recipes for dinners and hot beverages. Please share your ideas in the comments. As always, be kind and care for yourselves.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • jdaph
    3 weeks ago

    Yes winter has always been so hard on me, and its only gotton harder with each year.. I too have changed my perspective and am trying to use winter to rest, rejuvenate, instead of pushing myself out the door . I used to work a lot, as a sub teacher which meant I had to go outside with the kids, and had to wear so much clothing that it weighs me down and hurts even worse. In the past 3 years Ive come to the point that I cannot work hardly at all anymore, and its such a relief to not have to force myself out the door, and put on sooooooooooooo many layers,, just doing the grocery shopping is excruciating,, Im learning to take advantage of the pick up services at most stores now. I think the animals have the right idea,,, hibernate!!!!

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you Jdaph! You have some great winter ideas. We have to care for ourselves.
    Keep hoping!
    Mary Sophia, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Thanks for sharing jdaph. Glad you have been able to find ways to rest and rejuvenate during winter. Love this idea, as the author mentioned, of a new way of thinking. Wishing you some relief ahead, Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Mary,

    I also dislike winter. First off it keeps me off my bicycle and that is my favorite activity. Second, I hate the cold. Cold just makes my RA feel like I am swimming in concrete.

    Thank you for the wonderful suggestions. I will see if i can keep the concrete away from me this winter.

    rick – moderator.

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    Thanks Rick! I love the imagery of swimming in concrete. I miss my bicycle too.
    Keep hoping!
    Mary Sophia

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    3 weeks ago

    What a great article Mary Sophia and one that gives me a chance to think about winter in a new way. I’m not even that much of a social animal in the summertime so one benefit of winter is that it provides a built in absolution for spending time in the house by one’s self. I love to cook and bake, with the use of my many gadgets and cooking aids. What spells better than cinnamon buns baking in the oven in the wintertime? Wish they were calorie free. I too love my crockpot and electronic pressure cooker though the EPQ still scares me a little. I have a killer low fat crockpot lasagna recipe that is super simple that I don’t mind sharing if anyone is interested. I even use whole wheat lasagna noodles and you don’t have to pre-cook them. Cooking in the fall and winter is a lot more fun than the summer. All the stews, soups and baked goods, yum.

    I love to watch the winter birds and animals that show up in the yard. This year we had a family of foxes visit us. The fox cubs were so beautiful and not something this city girl gets to see very often. I also love to read and write stories and poetry. My social life is mostly internet based and with most people spending more time inside than out I can really do some catching up with those that have been difficult to pin down in warmer weather.

    Sitting by our fireplace and roasting chestnuts (yes, people still do that, I think) and just relaxing with my husband and my cats is also very enjoyable for me and taking it easy helps me recharge and not come down with so many sinus and upper respiratory infections. I order loads of seed, flower and plant catalogs and plan out our summer garden. I like four season curb appeal so there’s always some plant being moved or new plants being installed. I, of course, am the supervisor and my husband the worker bee…lol

    If I’m feeling up to it and it’s not too cold we take a day trip to a local winery where we have friends and family and enjoy the day with them. When cabin fever does hit, my husband is always game for taking a ride in the country even on snowy days. As long as I’m bundled up and warm and have my pillows I’m good.

    Thanks for encouraging everyone to think about how we can enjoy our winter months despite the fact many of us have increased pain and fatigue in the cold weather. Happy winter!

    Cynthia

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    Thanks Cynthia! I would love to have your crockpot lasagna recipe! I recently found an instant pot on clearance on QVC, and I will take those recipes too. Gadgets and kitchen helps are so important.
    It sounds like you have many great winter ideas and a lovely place to watch nature.
    Keep warm and hopeful!
    Mary Sophia

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    Cynthia,
    Thank you for the lasagna recipe!!!
    Mary Sophia

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Here’s the Lasagna recipe Mary Sophia. I hope it cut/pastes and prints out all right for you. I can always email them to you too. Just let me know…I’ll send some more to you for your InstaPot. I have a Mealthy but they’re all alike… I think we should start a recipe exchange on the website or FB…CynthiaV

    Slow Cooker Lasagna

    Ingredients:
    1 pound uncooked 93% lean ground beef
    1 small, uncooked onion chopped
    1 medium garlic clove, minced
    28 oz can crushed tomatoes
    15 oz can of tomato sauce
    1 tsp table salt
    1 tsp dried oregano
    ½ tsp dried basil
    ¼ tsp, or to taste crushed red pepper flakes
    1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (I use Maggio but you use what you like)
    1 ½ cups, divided shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
    6 items uncooked lasagna noodles (I use whole wheat)
    ½ cup strong-flavored shredded cheese like Locatelli Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano

    Instructions:
    1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes; simmer 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

    2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.

    3. Spoon 1/3 of beef mixture into a 5-quart slow cooker. Break 3 lasagna sheets in half and arrange over beef mixture; top with half of ricotta mixture. Repeat with another layer and finish with remaining 1/3 of beef mixture.

    4. Cover slow cooker and cook on low setting for 4 to 6 hours. Remove cover; turn off heat and season to taste, if desired.

    5. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over beef mixture. Cover and set aside until cheese melts and lasagna firms up, about 10 minutes.

    Note: I cook it for four hours and it always comes out great. I’ve even cooked it the day before and warmed it up the next day on the stove with some extra jarred sauce. It freezes great too. I can’t tell you how long it will stay in the freezer because my family always takes it out after a week but it should stay good for at least a few months as long as you cover the container top (I use glass containers and Reynold’s non-stick aluminum foil) before closing. I hope you and your family enjoy it.

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Great! Let me get them all together. I love sharing recipes! Hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.

    Though my RA is worse in the winter months vs summer I try to make the best of things as many of us long-termers have learned. I’ll be in touch soon!
    Cynthia

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