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Fibromyalgia and Winter Blues: Finding Your 'Hygge'

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Like a lot of people with fibromyalgia, I have always detested winter. Not only is everything dead or dying, grey, bare, overcast and dark, the cold often exacerbates my fatigue and pain and increases my chances of experiencing one of those odd cluster of symptoms like painful phantom itching. Winter clothes hurt my skin and I feel even less motivated to go out.

This year has been a bit different. Part of it is that I’ve pulled out of the multi-year flare-up or post-viral fatigue that kept me bedridden most of the time. But I think some of it can be attributed to hygge.

I began hearing about hygge a few years ago, first from my significant other, a near magical sentiment that began in Scandinavian countries. A Danish word, hygge refers to an attitude quite different from mine about the cold, dark months. The word translates loosely to “cozy,” and encapsulates a love of nature, the cold, friends and family, and all things winter.

Here is some of what I have tried in order to achieve hygge.

1. Enjoy friends and family. Nothing has kept me positive like surrounding myself with laughter. When I am physically able, I have spent more time at casual events, attending a new pub or bar with my friends and trying new cocktails.

2. Hot drinks. For my everyday strong hot coffee needs, I have a Nespresso Vertuoline Espresso and Coffee Maker, which I mostly use to make good coffee in the winter at the odd times of day I want it (decaf is my friend) without smelling up the whole sleeping house. Lately I’ve had the energy to get out and have enjoyed finding coffeehouses to hang out with as long as my back can take being up. Bonus if the coffeehouse has a fireplace, that’s two hygge in one, three if your loved ones are there. Another hot drink I enjoyed making recently was Hot Buttered Rum. It’s very very very sweet, but it’s also buttery goodness. The spices are delicious and make the drink feel special.

3. Board games, card games, and movies. Board games and card games like Mille Borne are very hygge, but my significant other isn’t crazy about participating, so often it’s movies and television.

4. Electric blankets. I find the cold most enjoyable when I’m avoiding it. I can’t find an electric blanket that isn’t either lumpy or attracts dog hair like mad, but I make do. With a slightly chilly nose and warm and toasty toes I feel like I’m not fighting the cold, but living together with it.

5. Hot baths. This depends on your tolerance for heat, as many with fibromyalgia are heat intolerant. This is not the case with me. While you will not single-handedly combat severe fatigue with a hot bath I still recommend my strategy: I partake several times a day (moving from bathtub to sunshine in the summer like a pasty sea lion). Make the baths special. Keep candles next to the bathtub. I have to be a little careful about chemical sensitivity but depending on your tolerance you may be able to use natural oils, or the fun Lush bath bombs. And if your tub is big enough, why not invite a friend?

6. Hot, cozy food. You know this one. What’s better than comfort food in the cold weather? Chili or your favorite hot soups and stews. I find that dishes with hot tomato in them are very hygge. My Instant Pot has come to save my life.

7. Writing. OK, this might be a more controversial one, but writing seems so hygge to me! Because of the stress on my neck, back, and shoulders, of sitting at a desk or table, I write in my recliner, feet up, under a soft blanket, with my animals and significant other by me, a cup of coffee or tea on the adjacent table. The most hygge is a fresh new notebook with just the right paper and a good pen.

So far I’ve had a greater enjoyment of the season, which is great. No one wants to feel that six months of the year are lost to being sad. Most things I consider hygge are soothing to my fibromyalgia, too.

What do you do that leads to cozy enjoyment during the fall and winter?

This blog was originally published on Chic Fibro Girl.

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Originally published: February 27, 2017
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