Just Another Rainy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. . .

I spent 10 years in the Chicago area and I do NOT miss the snow, bitter cold and ice! I don’t believe I would be able to tolerate the cold anymore, because I am on vasodilators for my heart condition. I currently live in the southeastern region of the U.S. We still get four seasons, but some are longer than others. My least favorite season is winter. Winter in this area means rain, sometimes ice, rare snow, and cold (20-30 degrees). The gray rainy days are the worst for me.

The impact of barometric and weather changes

We have many articles on RheumatoidArthritis.net about barometric changes and weather affecting us. Some of us do better in cold weather. I am not one of those.

How my body reacts to weather and temperature changes

Heat is better for me and humidity in the summer doesn’t seem to affect my RD. However, humidity in the winter seeps into my bones and joints. My fingers and toes are impacted the most. My rheumatologist asked me to describe the feeling; “My fingers feel like the bones are made of ice” was my reply. Have you ever felt that way? My neck gets cold too, but my skin sensitivity keeps me from wearing turtlenecks.

Seasonal affective depressive disorder (SADD)

Chronic pain has a huge impact on mental health, most notably depression. Chronic pain eats through serotonin like a hungry teenage boy. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters in our brain responsible for happy feelings. So, we who deal with RD are already at a deficit.

Why does SADD happen?

In addition, many of us deal with SADD, Seasonal Affective Depressive Disorder. This happens when we don’t get enough sunshine to sustain our happy mood. I recently found out that there is reverse-SADD, where people do well on gray days and feel miserable on sunny days. I deal with SADD every winter, especially after the time change. Some years, it is mild and I can manage it. Some years, it hits me like a brick wall and I have to add an anti-depressant.

Tips on how to manage weather changes

Managing season, barometric and weather changes takes creativity, willingness to try different approaches, and naps!! Before I look at my weather app when I wake up, my body already knows if it’s a gray day. I struggle to wake fully, it takes longer to force myself out of bed, and everything hurts when I step down. If it wasn’t for the promise of coffee, I might not even get out of bed. On those days, I allow myself an extra 10 minutes in bed and extra coffee.

Bundling up with scarves to stay warm

I recently started wearing more scarves in the winter. I like scarves because they are easy to put on and get off (in case of hot flashes). They also come in different weights and add an element of fashion. Scarves keep my neck warm, which also keeps my hands from getting cold due to the circulation system. I can also wrap them around my head to keep it warm.

Different methods to warm hands

Speaking of hands, gloves and mittens are essential. Sometimes I layer them when it’s really cold. Many days when I get home, I wrap my heating pad around my hands. A newer remedy I have found is a paraffin bath. I dip my hands every day in the winter, and sometimes twice a day.

Keep the skin moisturized and hydrated

Making sure that your skin stays hydrated in the winter prevents dry skin, which always makes me feel colder. I use body butter because I find that it holds in moisture better than lotion. I also make sure to drink plenty of liquids in the winter to combat dehydration.

Keeping our feet warm is critical

I keep throw blankets all around my home, primarily for my legs and feet. Cold feet make me cold all over! Socks, sometimes doubled, are mandatory. Boots are mandatory as well, preferably fuzzy lined boots.

The most important way to manage winter weather is to minimize your outdoor time. What other tricks and tips do you use? I would love to hear them.

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