By Lucinda Tart
If you are like me, the cold weather this time of year is barely tolerable. I live on the West Coast but these last several weeks I feel like I am in the Midwest! Despite wearing long john pants, sweaters, a sweater and hooded sweat jacket, with beanie hat and scarf, I am flaring in pain if I step outside for more than 10 minutes. This creates a situation where I am literally becoming trapped inside my home. Just the normal cold here limits my outside activity for several months.
A fellow blogger recently commented on my post that dealt with the holidays about the grief and depression that can also be associated with this time of year. Being trapped indoors increases these emotions. Many of my Peers do feel grief and/or depression (often seasonal affected disorder) during this season (I am currently going through trauma). Therefore the problem becomes what can we do to distract ourselves during these emotions indoors while battling the cold? Chronic pain is already a difficult, but not impossible, day to day learning process in how to turn the negative into the positive. Now we also have the added pressure to find ways to be more positive due to the extra pain from the cold and our depressive thoughts.
Where do we begin to use our toolkits in this tangle. Or is it a case of needing to create new tools? I start my toolkit by stocking up on warm and cozy indoor clothes. This includes sweatpants, warm socks and slippers, indoor button or zip-up sweaters, and warm tops. I also make sure my pajamas are not thin cotton but thick, even just wearing sweatpants to bed. For outdoor clothing you can read above the types of items I keep on hand and add to the list many types of scarves and beanie caps.
Now that I am warm and cozy, I can start to find items that will keep me busy to distract myself from the depressive feelings of the season and other griefs. I posted before about my use of adult coloring books. I also am beginning to sketch. I am not an artist but it distracts me just the same. There are puzzles to do, Christmas gifts to create, social media, and my friends to phone. Being a person who falls somewhere inbetween the new generation and the older generation, email became a norm for me. I recently rediscovered the joy of receiving and mailing snail mail! Sending note cards to friends, including art pieces and a note is a wonderful feeling. Opening your mailbox to find a letter from a friend is a powerful reminder that you are cared for.
Other important items you might want to have are throw blankets to wrap up in like a warm hug and for depression, a light box. Open your curtains to let in daylight as well. Even if we can’t go outside, seeing outside is important. The changing scenery of clouds, birds, people and more, is interesting. Perhaps hanging a bird feeder near your window would bring you positive thoughts. Despite how much of a struggle all of this added negativity may be, we can and should find what brings us positive moments that create positive thoughts.
Keep a journal of what you read about that sounds interesting to you. After three weeks, go out and get the items and start doing it! It is for your enjoyment only, so there is no judgement about how it looks or sounds to others. Our healthy mind is the first step to a healthier body. Be creative, be kind, gentle, and warm. Spring will come back!
About the Author:
Lucinda Tart is a Fibromyalgia Peer Advocate and Life Skills Coach. Her blog can be found at: livingyournewlifewithchronicpain.com