Enjoying Winter: Our Top 5 Tips
Happy new year everyone (is it still acceptable to say this?). As we move through the winter months, it’s important that we prepare ahead of the tricky seasons for those of us living with EPP (Erythropoietic protoporphyria), VP (Variegate porphyria) and other photosensitive porphyrias. I often find myself reflecting and preparing for the rest of the year both in work and in my personal life during January and my condition is no exception to this.
With this in mind, I have put together 5 tips on how you can make the most of your winter whilst preparing for the warmer months ahead:
I love winter! Colder months can mean you have a perfect excuse to stay indoors and hibernate without having to worry about planning your life around sun exposure. I take advantage of enjoying warmth indoors. Lots of hot drinks, catching up on reading, long baths, and yoga are great for your overall health and wellbeing. I know I feel comforted and content when I experience the warmth despite staying away from it during the hot months, so I use winter months to fully rest and enjoy time catching up with family and friends.
- Vitamin D
It’s been proven that people with EPP have a deficiency in vitamin D due to the lack of sunlight exposure so it’s crucial we take supplements. I ensure I take them every day during the winter months so I don’t miss out on any of the health benefits (I buy my supplements from Holland and Barrett). If you are unsure of where to start with supplements, I suggest reading up on our website or contacting your specialist to discuss this further. Whilst you’re there, it might be worth stocking up on dundee cream and any other prescriptions relevant to your condition.
- Enjoying the outdoors
Yes, that’s right, I use the winter months to enjoy spending time outdoors where I can. I find myself going for brisk walks and enjoying light exercise like running. It’s a great time of year for those living with photosensitive porphyria to start a new outdoor sport, especially with the ‘new year new me’ incentive to keep us motivated. I like to go for a Sunday run (‘Sunday Runday’ I call it) and find my body reaps the rewards of breathing in the crisp air. It’s also fantastic for my mental well-being spending time around nature and learning to develop a positive relationship with the outdoors ahead of spring and summer. Why not go for a walk in your local park or explore a new area near your home?
- Plan a mini break
Now is the perfect time to plan trips away with loved ones whilst it’s colder and more tolerable for those of us with EPP etc. to spend time outdoors. I use the winter months to venture to new places when I feel safer to travel with my condition. You could organise a trip to visit a long distance friend or family member or why not plan a staycation and explore an area of the UK that you haven’t travelled to yet?
Another brilliant benefit of spending time outdoors is to layer sun exposure on your skin (as the sun is at its weakest during winter months). Start with a 10 minute walk and see how you get on? By using this technique, many people with EPP have reported that their spring and summer has become more bearable – I for one notice a difference in the amount of time I can spend outdoors during the summer because of this technique so it’s worth giving it a go! Alternatively/as well as natural sun exposure, you can also consider light therapy treatment. If this is of interest to you, I’d suggest booking this in with your porphyria specialist as soon as possible to avoid missing out on appointments.
Winter is one of my favourite seasons…not just because the other two are temperamental and anxiety inducing for me. I enjoy indulging in the colder months as a way of treating myself for having successfully navigated my way through another summer.