Seasonal Changes

Last updated: October 2016

Here in Vermont, fall is just around the corner and with it comes shorter daylight hours, dark mornings and cold weather. I happen to like the cooler temperatures but not the darker days.

When it comes to managing my RA, I do need to consider these seasonal changes. One is shoes. Soon I will be forced to put away my oh so comfortable sandals for shoes and boots. It always takes some time for my RA feet and toes to adjust to the restrictions of shoes and boots. I have found that going slowly, maybe wearing them for a limited amount of time to start, helps my feet to make that adjustment. I also tend to have just a few styles (but lots of colors) to make that adjustment easier. Once I find a shoe or boot that works for me, I buy it in every color I might want and need. My feet are very thankful to only have to get used to a couple of shoe types.

Another change that takes some adapting to is the shorter days. Many of us already struggle with low energy, so when it get dark at 4:30 PM versus 8:30 PM that loss of 4 hours of light is so hard to adjust to! I find myself coming home from work and instead of going for a gentle walk or out for a bite to eat with some friends, I change clothes and pretty much call it a day.  That can mean I tend to isolate more, socialize less and can lead to some depressing days. I will try to keep an eye on that so it does not happen.

By the same token, it is often dark out when I wake up in the morning and boy does that make getting up and going a challenge! One thing I try to do is turn on the lights as soon as I get up. This gets me moving and alert.

In the summer, I often bathe in the evening before bed as it cools me down and makes me sleep more comfortably. Once the time change happens, I switch to morning bathing because it wakes me up and get me going for the day.

Clothing changes are part of the seasonal adjustments we need to make. Before RA, I rarely considered the nuances I now consider. For instance, I like warm, loose fitting, comfortable fabrics like fleece and corduroy. I find that heavy, restrictive clothing makes my joints very uncomfortable. I need to be able to move and rotate joints throughout the day and wearing something that makes that a challenge is a real no no for me.

Food choices in the fall are interesting too. I love soups and stews and fall just naturally invites those yummy options! I have to be careful to still include fresh veggies and fruits in my diet though which is crucial to our good health.

Exercise changes when the weather does too in many cases. As it gets significantly colder, time outdoors is more limited. With that said, I try to make the most of my time outdoors, shooting for sunny times to keep my Vitamin D at necessary levels. Wearing appropriate clothing and footwear makes time outdoors much more welcoming. I always have a scarf around my neck for instance because the wind and cold can kick it at any time!

Being prepared for the seasonal changes can make all the difference in how much we enjoy each and every season nature has to offer.

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