Winter Hacks for Raynauds Sufferers
Raynaulds affects more women than men, and it causes limbs feel numb and cold in response to cold temperatures or stress. In Raynaud's disease, smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas.
In my early twenties, at university I'd get into my bed which had two duvets and numerous blankets, wearing in a woolly hat, a hood over my hat and gloves over my pyjamas. It's nice to snuggle up and get cosy, but this was more urgent than that. I felt cold to my bones. I couldn't sleep and of course it affected my concetration and energy levels the next day.
A part of it is 'cute' I guess; it gives me an excuse to cosy up to friends, or knit myself chunky scarves (I have so many scarves) but whilst reading history at university I began to see how patterns are created, communities or nations can get caught up in old stories and I decided I wanted to be the author of a new one in my life. My studies helped me read and assimilate lots of information, keep looking for theories and answers and challenge the status quo. What better use for those skills than in my own wellbeing?
Raynauld's is painful and exhausting and made me feel weak and vulnerable for many years, I didn't know it then, but I continued to make decisions which perpetuated those feelings; tense and shivering outside or choosing to stay inside.
What can help?
Yoga, obviously! The mistake I made when I got cold was to hunker down and this made my extremities colder. A regular yoga practice improves circulation, which is what Raynauld's sufferers struggle with. I genuinely suffer far fewer symptoms than I used to.
Muscle! I try to go to the gym a little more often in the colder months because muscles generate heat, long after the workout. Muscle tissue is endothermic which basically makes me warm blooded.
Get outside! I still cycle all year round (unless it's raining because... well who likes cycling in the rain?) I'll wrap up warm, but do something like have a little gap between my trainers and leggings. This exposed flesh at the ankles conditions my body for the cold and I'll have to put some effort in to keep warm.
A Yoga practice will evolve over time and support your daily movements.
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