Avoiding Cabin Fever This Winter
Living with RA can be challenging at the best of times, but add bitter cold and restricted spaces, and you may begin to suffer more than you expect. The longer you stay inside, the more cramped your body, mind, and lifestyle can become, and that’s when cabin fever – that feeling of anxiety, irritability, and malaise – sets in.
Morning stiffness can last longer when your active routine falls by the wayside, joint pain can set in more quickly in the cold, and isolation can make everything feel worse. But you can’t let winter get the best of you or your RA management plan: fight off cabin fever with a few small adjustments that will keep you happy and limber until spring arrives.
A Healthy Diet for a Happier State of Mind
What you eat – and don’t eat – has a lot of bearing on your attitude, as well as your joint health. After all, a happy outlook makes it much easier to keep up an active lifestyle, and certain ingredients can feed your outlook as much as your body:
- Omega 3 fatty acids elevates mood. Salmon, flax seed, and walnuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which have a measurable impact on happiness and energy. Since these important fatty acids also reduce inflammation and calm the immune system, they should play a big role in your winter menu.
- Zinc reduces stress. Zinc helps to moderate your body’s stress response, and acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant. Luckily, there are a number of natural sources, with meat and nuts topping the list: add some lean beef, mussels, or cashews when your stress and anxiety begin to get the better of you.
- Vitamin D keeps you balanced. Research shows that vitamin D deficiency contributes to a variety of mood disorders, so when you can’t get your daily dose of natural sunlight, drink more vitamin D-fortified milk and juice.
- Vitamin B keeps you energized. B12, folic acid, and niacin are incredibly important for energy metabolism. Add more eggs, lean meat, fish and dairy to your diet, and you’ll soon notice a big change in your energy levels.
- Tryptophan makes you happy. The tryptophan in foods like turkey, tofu, asparagus, and sunflower seeds is converted into serotonin, the neurotransmitter that keeps you feeling peaceful and content.
Too much sugar can give you quick high and a big low, but don’t deny yourself a treat now and then. Flavors and scents can have a powerful effect on your mood, and decadent desserts or aromatic beverages can deliver quick (and delicious) results.
Lavender is relaxing, and can be steeped into tea, or even baked into cookies. And if you’re feeling particularly drained, spike your hot chocolate with a bit of peppermint extract – mint is one of the most uplifting scents, and along with grapefruit and vanilla, it will help combat depression and anxiety.