For Spoonies (those dealing with chronic illnesses and disabilities or medical conditions that cause pain and fatigue) winter can be an especially difficult season, from the physically and emotionally draining weather to the tasks you can’t escape from. Having a positive outlook can seem impossible when you’re smothered in blankets and body aches- also called the ‘Spoonie winter blues’. Here are a few tips to help those Spoonies combat the dreaded ‘winter blues’
For those of us in the northern hemisphere we should be coming to the end of winter now, although temperature wise I don’t think anybody has told the weather. So I am taking this time to reflect on how well I managed (or didn’t) coping with the winter blues.
Try to Stay active
Gentle activity is recommended, as this article by WebMD states. But, keeping up with regular exercise can be tough for Spoonies during winter, try finding activities that don’t require too much energy. Try searching for classes online that work with your current level of energy, such as yoga or meditation. Or if indoors isn’t really your thing, consider going outside for a light walk in the fresh air- being outside is always good for the mental health! Try to time it at the warmest part of the day.
I am at a stage with my Fibro when getting traditional exercise, however gentle, is nearly impossible. Activities like going up and dow the stairs during the day and taking a shower every few days count as exercise to me. I tend to find I get to a point that I can’t bare to go any longer without taking the shower, have no idea how I will manage it. Love it while I am stood in there then spend a good couple of hours recovering from it afterwards.
Find Friends or Family Who Will Understand
Although it may feel lonely sometimes especially during the colder months, seek out people who will understand how you feel and who will be there to encourage you regardless. Whether they are in your position or just understanding enough not to judge your physical limitations in any way- having friends who promote positivity instead of pity can really make a difference when trying to beat those spoonie winter blues! This article from UKFibromyalgia talks about networking opportunities and of course there is the Fibro Connect group on Facebook for all spoonies.
Loneliness or isolation, I’ll be honest are not big factors for me. I have my husband. a good neighbour next door and my family I can ring. Not to mention fellow spoonies to Tweet with. As an introvert this is plenty of company for me. I am more than happy enough to loose myself in a book or watching something, not to mention falling down rabbit holes researching all-sorts of interesting subjects on the internet.
Take Care Of The Essentials
The basics such as ordering groceries online so you don’t have to trek through snowy streets, organising medications ahead of time so you don’t need trips back and forth for refills, plus preparing your favourite hot meals like soup or stew ahead of time are all essential steps when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle during these duller months. Not only will it help physically on rainy days but having an abundance of nutritious food readily available will save precious spoons for more creative projects later! Fibromyalgia Diet – Eating to Ease Symptoms makes some recommendations.
I am going to put my hands up here. Although I like hearty casseroles and soups. When the Spoonie winter blues set in I tend to fall back on bad habits. Chocolate in not just for Christmas, it is around through my birthday in February, then why stop now when it is really not long until Easter. The hotter months are when I stand the best chance of kicking my chocolate addiction, but then it’s having enough time to think through how to manage the festive season treats without going crazy. Life is hard enough there has to be some pleasures…
Practice Self-Care & Positive Affirmation
Spoonies can struggle with self image issues due their illness or disability, causing a sense of isolation even among family and friends. Therefore it can help to keep motivated by practicing daily affirmations like ‘I am capable’ or ‘I am strong’ while engaging in soothing self care activities such as painting or playing music which allow ample personal enjoyment without taking away too many physical spoons!
Two and a half years ago or so I had a subscription to Headspace and it made a massive difference on my life. I really did feel positive every day. The subscription was tied with Spotify but when I cancelled that I couldn’t afford to keep on the Headspace one. I have tried some free apps but none have helped me as much as Headspace did. The NHS provide free access to their staff because they understand the benefit.
My Spoonie winter blues
When I wrote the post Fibromyalgia and Depression the Undeniable Relationship I was not really dealing with any sort of low mood depression, I think this winter things have been a bit worse. Not as bad as they are for some, I can still find pleasure when I an doing something I enjoy or losing myself in media. But in between these activities, the gaps between the tiles, there has been a noticeable mildew of darkness and low mood growing in the grouting.
Of course, now we are hopefully leaving winter behind us we are dealing with Fibromyalgia and Changeable Weather which leads to it’s own set of problems.
I hope your Spoonie winter blues were not too hard to deal with, and for our southern hemisphere friends I hope your winter will not be too difficult to manageable.