By Celeste Cooper
If you are like me, “the fibro effect” seems to rear its ugly head this time of year. My routine is disrupted, I don’t eat the right foods, I get more confused than usual, and my mood changes. My winter spirit definitely needs an adjustment.
There is no doubt that our diet is different during the winter months. A generational bond is created with traditional holiday family dishes that focus on taste, not nutrition. Fresh foods aren’t readily available, making it difficult to eat healthy and stay within the family budget. But, whether in our control or not, when we don’t eat right, we are more inclined to fatigue, fibrofog, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder problems, etc. The fibro effect has us in its grip when we are sabotaged by food .
I embrace a hearty laugh at the expense of fibrofog. I even write some of them down. Logical conscious thought translates into unrecognizable jargon as words slip from my lips. And, the unpredictability can be alarming. Overstimulation during the holiday can negatively affect cognitive dysfunction. And, other underlying conditions may be swept aside or fall prey to a sedentary lifestyle during the season of rest.
Anxiety and depression can be affected by many things during the season. Maybe we are apprehensive about interpersonal relationships. Winter weather has an effect on fibromyalgia . Fluctuating hormones and other important chemical messengers that provide us with homeostasis and a sense of well-being are compromised.
But there are things we can do.
MANAGING SEASONAL FIBRO-EFFECT
Clutter and chaos causes frustration, and stress. Minimizing choices can be less confusing for us. I developed the in-out rule, something new in, something old out. I can organize better and I have more time. Living minimally promotes focus.
Once we minimize, we have more time to organize.
Fibro tip: When organizing “things,” it’s important to use visible labels. In our quest for optimism, our desire to remember… I forgot.
- Set limits
It’s impossible to set limits without a plan. A good plan has objective and manageable goals AND LIMITS. When we acknowledge our abilities and our limits, we do better at plan management.
- Listen to body talk – don’t over-exert.
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Overdoing is not an attribute of self-empowerment for anybody — ANYBODY! We, of all people, should have this one covered.
- Address fibrofog 
An over-stimulating, noisy, or physically congested environment can easily lead to distraction, confusion, and disorientation. Omega 3, along with aerobic activity, and cognitive stimulation may help. One study 
indicates these things together decline changes in gray matter in certain parts of the brain. So doing things known to improve brain function contributes to our cognitive health.
- Pace 
In addition to being prepared with a personalized backup plan, we can do other things to help, such as meditating 
, focusing on positive outcomes, deep breathing, and treating our body and mind with tender care and loving self-talk.
- Manage mood
Music is therapy. I love the feelings I get when I hear an old tune that takes me back in time or makes me want to get up and dance as I air tap to the beat. I also practice focused breathing, meditation, and T’ai Chi. What things do you do to manage your mood?
As the season changes, so can we. If we listen to subtle hints and follow a plan, we can minimize the fibro-effect, we can be prepared , and we can look forward to the days ahead.
Celeste Cooper, RN, is a frequent contributor to ProHealth. She is an advocate, writer and published author, and a person living with chronic pain. Celeste is lead author of Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain and Broken Body, Wounded Spirit, and Balancing the See Saw of Chronic Pain (a four-book series). She spends her time enjoying her family and the rewards she receives from interacting with nature through her writing and photography. You can learn more about Celeste’s writing, advocacy work, helpful tips, and social network connections at CelesteCooper.com