5 Ways To Survive Winter In College With Chronic Pain
5 Ways To Survive Winter In College With Chronic Pain – If you’re like me, winter is the hardest season when it comes to managing chronic pain. It’s hard for us to keep our poorly circulated bodies warm. Gray skies make it even harder for us to get out of bed than it normally is. Our bodies seem to basically reject the colder months in general. Pain goes up, mood goes down. Here are some tips I’ve learned after spending last November and December away at school, as well as two months in Cleveland (there coldest winter in history, of course!):
1) Stock Up On Hand Warmers
Anyone who has spent any time with me between November and March knows how important hand warmers are to me. My body temperature is pretty low year round, but especially during the wintertime. I have the hardest time trying to raise my body temperature, and I tend to shiver for up to an hour after coming inside when it’s cold. I don’t just use hand warmers for my hands, I’m known for stuffing them in my boots and every pocket that I can find. If you’re crafty, you can easily make reusable microwavable hand warmers by sewing small squares of fabric together and filling them with rice. If you aren’t so crafty, you can find Hot Hands hand warmers in the dollar section at Target. They come in packs of two (or larger ones individually) and they last up to 18 hours! They’re so easy to just throw in your bag and activate before heading outside. They’ll help keep you warm through an entire day of classes!
2) Invest In Fleece Lined Leggings
A lot of people with CRPS (including myself) have major sensory issues, making it a challenge to wear pants or jeans, even when it’s freezing cold outside. Trust me: you don’t want to walk around campus in shorts during the winter, but you also don’t want to wear clothing that causes you too much discomfort. Fleece lined leggings are my lifesaver when it’s cold outside. Obviously, they’re extremely comfortable, and you can even dress them up or down to fit your style. The fleece adds an extra layer of insulation, which is a huge advantage, if you struggle with staying warm. Here’s a bonus tip: If you have to dress up or wear jeans for an event or science lab, wear leggings underneath! They’ll provide enough compression on your sensitive skin to counteract the discomfort of looser clothing.
3) Heat Your Blankets
This is a trick I started doing during my first semester of college. When I returned from a long day of classes, or right before bed, I would take my blankets to the laundry room and throw them in the dryer for 45 minutes while I got ready for bed or finished up some last-minute studying. There is nothing more comforting or soothing than lying in bed wrapped in warm, soft blankets!
4) Warm Yourself From The Inside Out
Okay, this one might just be an excuse for me to drink more coffee, but it works! Walking to and from classes can freeze my body to a point of uncontrolled shivering, which almost always leads to more pain and sometimes even impaired function until I can warm up and stop shaking. I’ve found that eating and drinking hot things helps a ton! Typically, I’ll grab coffee or hot tea before heading out the door, and also between classes. Not only does it help warm my body up internally, but the cup also serves as an extra hand warmer.
5) Remember That Spring Will Come Eventually
Whether this is your first year battling chronic pain, or you’re a seasoned veteran, you know that winter is inevitable. It happens every year, and there’s nothing we can do about it. My most hopeful advice for you comes in the form of my favorite Ernest Hemingway quote: “Life is unpredictable, it changes with the seasons. Even your coldest winter happens for the best of reasons. And though it feels eternal, like all you’ll ever do is freeze, I promise spring is coming, and with it brand new leaves.”
Have you found any tips to help you get through the winter months? Please comment in the section below.