By Heather Tick, M.D., Well Being Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1.
We have lost touch with our environment in so many ways. One indicator for me was my children, who, when they were little, hated dressing for the weather. They grew up living in the Northeast, where we had harsh winters and hot, muggy summers. As soon as they were too old for me to choose their outfits, they began opening up their jackets in winter, their hats stayed on the hall tree, and their gloves disappeared entirely. I think maybe one of them wore boots. I remember lecturing them on the importance of protecting themselves from the elements. “You never know,” I urged them. “If your bus or car breaks down, you might have to walk five miles through a blizzard and subzero temperatures to safety!” They laughed at me. If I was lucky, they would stuff a hat in a pocket before going on their way.
We lived in a large urban center. My children were right, in a way; they couldn’t have walked a block without running into several options for shelter. However, the principle is still a good one, especially for people in pain: respect nature and the elements.
In winter, and in air-conditioned spaces during other seasons, it is important to keep your body from getting chilled. Too much cold causes your blood vessels to constrict and your muscles to tighten. This hinders blood circulation and may increase pain. Additionally, any sudden drop in body temperature causes a stress reaction, which can increase both pain and vulnerability to infection.
In summer, it is important to hydrate. Dehydration happens when your body uses more water than it consumes, and it is very easy to be dehydrated in hot, dry weather—you sweat more, and sometimes it can be hard to tell you are sweating. If you don’t urinate at least five times a day, you should be drinking more water. In addition, your urine should be a pale yellow. A headache and tiredness are early signs of dehydration. Get in the habit of drinking when you’re thirsty. Of course, drinking is not the only way to hydrate. Fruits and vegetables contain plenty of water.…
To continue reading, see the full article in Vol. 24, No. 1, 2015 (available in print or digital format) of the Well Being Journal.