Winter is a miserable season for everybody. It’s cold, wet and the mornings are dark and depressing, and the dark descends upon us far too easily in the evenings. For those battling with chronic illness, it can be even more miserable; with the cold affecting pain and fatigue levels. And of course, Winter, and the darkness that comes with it, can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder; a type of depression that occurs during the Winter months and is thought to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight.
For me, the Winter months, and particularly living here in the UK, affects the amount of pain I experience. I find that the very cold weather, which unfortunately we are prone to here. This year has been particularly bad, with a lot of rain and the bitter cold, which has resulted in me being in a lot of pain whilst out with my carer, especially when needing the wheelchair. In order to help with this I really believe in layers, and especially thermal trousers and a top to protect your body from the cold. As I experience bad pain due to my neurological condition, particularly in my legs, I therefore never leave the house without a pair of thermal trousers on to protect them from the cold, and to lessen the likelihood of experiencing severe pain. Also, as many people have told me throughout my life, it is much better to stay warm and remove layers than it is to have one very thick layer on. This is particularly helpful also, when shopping, as most stores become very warm, so is very helpful to be able to remove layers. This year, as the pain has been worse, I have also tried to spend time out of the wheelchair when out shopping; as moving about is important to keeping warm, and so thought perhaps using the wheelchair was exacerbating the level of pain and fatigue that I have been experiencing.
Also, another necessity for going out and about during the winter months is to keep your hands and feet warm, with thick socks, gloves, as well as ensuring to wear an appropriate winter coat, hat and scarf. Especially important when living with chronic illness
Of course, when suffering a chronic illness and living with it everyday, with symptoms constantly making themselves known, a lot of time is spent indoors. During the winter months, it can be a good thing when the weather outside is awful! I like nothing better when it is very cold than to wrap myself in a lovely thick blanket and curl up with a lovely hot mug of hot chocolate with a good book or even watch a film on Netflix or from my vast DVD collection. I think this can also be a good tactic when dealing with the winter blues – think of all the things that you are able to enjoy whilst inside the house, whilst protecting yourself from the cold and rain (and perhaps even snow!) and bask in the enjoyment of being able to appreciate the little things that you can enjoy, such as watching favourite films or TV programmes, or even get around to reading that book you have wanted to read for ages.
In order to alleviate the amount of pain and fatigue that I have been experiencing, I have decided to start moving more and start a new exercise regime! Exercise releases endorphins which helps to release those feel-good chemicals in the brain and so thought that it would help to alleviate the winter blues that can occur during this time of year. However, exercise for me is difficult due to my mobility problems, and which regular gyms are not suitable. Instead, I have found a gym that is perfect for those with chronic conditions such as mine as the machines are power assisted and so moves your body for you. It is even perfect for those without health problems as he machines can be used actively, whereby you can resist against the movements, giving an increased workout. Once a week, I am also taking part in some Pilates, and although I have yet to see any benefits regarding the pain or strength in my legs, I am feeling more positive and seen an increase in my energy levels! The Feel Good Factory certainly lives up to its name!
To find out more about the Feel Good Factory and the ShapeMaster equipment visit the website here