The Health Series: Managing Chronic Pain and Fatigue
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The Health Series: Managing Chronic Pain and Fatigue

When Jack Frost moves in, he nips our noses and bites our toes. But for those of us with chronic pain and fatigue issues, he just plain kicks our behinds into bed! Season changes cause pressure changes, and pressure changes cause more symptoms for people with autoimmune diseases and fibromyalgia. Does this sound like you? Take heart! You can do more to help yourself have better days through diet and exercise to manage your symptoms.

Do comfort foods like beef stew, shepherd's pie, or a fully loaded baked potato sound like it would warm you up? It probably would, after all, they were meant to be warm and filling for people to go out and chop wood, milk the cows, and shovel snow. For you, they will only amp up your pain while causing your fatigue to take over your day. Simple swaps like low fat plain yogurt in place of sour cream, lean ground turkey in place of ground beef, and wild rice or quinoa in place of white rice or pasta are easy to do without making drastic taste changes to your favorite dishes. You can also reduce the consequences of your food choices by cutting your condiments in half. Skip the mayo, though. Go for an avocado spread, instead. Swap unhealthy fats for healthy fats that love your heart, especially if this time of year makes it hard for you to get off your sofa. The key is to reduce saturated and hydrogenated fats (this include coconut oil), red meats, and high calorie, refined carbs. Kick refined sugars to the curb! Opt for fresh fruit instead. If your loaf of bread would be here when Jesus comes back, it's time to get fewer preservatives in your diet. Reduce your inflammation and fatigue to win the battle with the covers!

One of the best warm-ups is a good cup of hot tea or hot cider. Add some ginger to help reduce inflammation. Green and white tea are also great inflammation reducers. My favorite teas are Bengal Spice and Gingerbread by Celestial Seasonings. Avoid adding sugar to your hot beverages. Use Stevia or honey instead. Honey has a probiotic that could help with a bloated belly. Lemon or orange slices steeped in your tea are great pick-me-ups. Avoid hot chocolate because the fats, chocolate, and sugar may aggravate symptoms. It's also low in calories! Some people are even sensitive to coffee.

The other part of disease management is movement. Never make a decision about much of anything until after you are out of bed and had breakfast. It's not until the blood gets flowing through your veins that you can possibly assess your pain and fatigue for the day. Since it's cold, a walk around your neighborhood might not be appealing. I cringe at the thought of going to the pool at our local rec center because it's cold outside. The water and the building are warm, but the thought of the cold makes me cringe. So, go workout indoors. Try walking at the local mall (with only enough money to get something to drink at the food court), or walk the track at the local gym. No track? Try the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike. Put in your ear phones and listen to your favorite tunes. Find a local PraiseMoves class and try them seated, if that feels better. All of the instructors are taught how to modify the postures. Use exercise DVDs like Leslie Sansone's walking exercise or DVD downloads of PraiseMoves, if going outside is out of the question. By moving, you elevate the serotonin and endorphin levels, which tend to be low in people with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. And don't forget the stretching! S-T-R-E-T-C-H-!

If you are cold-sensitive, in other words, the cold causes more pain, blue or white fingernails, or for the muscles to tighten and increase the fatigue and mental fog, there are things you can use to help when you do need to go out. Wear a pair of gloves with neoprene or newer warming technology and layer with mittens over them. I actually wear leg warmers on my knees and elbows because they feel like there is no heat generated from them. I also sometimes wear fingerless knit gloves that I can pull my fingers and thumbs inside until I need them. Fleece tights under pants and long skirts are a lifesaver! Thermal pants for ladies aren't as helpful. Layer up with turtlenecks or a long sleeved T-shirt and an infinity scarf as a base layer under fleece tops or sweaters. Two pair of socks is never out of the question at my house here in the frigid tundra of Michigan! Keep a couple of instant heat packs from the hunting department of your local discount store around as a back up or in case you have car problems. Do you know about the hats with a nose and mouth cover? Oh, yes! You will be more prone to frostbite if you have Raynauds or circulatory problems.

It is better to look out the window at those cute fluffy birds huddled together on the trees and smile at them while you walk around your home with your tasty tea, looking forward for what good things your day will bring. We would love to hear how you beat your symptoms to enjoy your days or your great workout plan that help you. Comment below or email at May God bless you today and the whole winter season!

Sites to see:

special note: I do not advocate eastern meditation practices for Christians nor anything dealing with energy channeling or manipulation. Instead, see

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