Summer can be a time of year when our conditions flare up for a variety of reasons. To help get us all through this season with a bit more ease, I’ve put together a short list of some top tips, tricks, and strategies that will not only help get us through the season, but have some fun along the way!
The Sun! The sun can pose a variety of issues for those of us with light, temperature or sun sensitivities. Here’s a few strategies we can arm ourselves with now so we are ready for when summer gets into full swing:
a. Many of us have light sensitivities. The bright sunlight can literally hurt on a sunny day! Let’s make sure we are prepared with a pair of sunglasses that block out 100% UV light whenever we are outside. This strategy is also important on cloudy days too – after all, the sun is still beneath those clouds somewhere.
b. Temperature sensitivities can go both ways in the summer. It’s quite easy to get the chills on a hot day or overheat. Let’s be prepared for both. If we find ourselves getting the chills, bringing an extra sweatshirt, blanket, or being prepared to step inside for a bit to limit exposure to the outside elements can be great options. Overheating can often happen and quite quickly as well. Staying hydrated is key (I always recommend closed capped waterbottles – to avoid bugs or bees from getting in the water while at the same time ensuring we are staying hydrated and our drink doesn’t get spilled). Overheating (or even a heat stroke) can come on quickly so being prepared on hot days often means having an escape route planned in advance – an indoor, cool option and again, staying hydrated can be essential.
c. Some of our medications can increase our sensitivity to sunlight. It can cause us to get sun rashes and also a sunburn much quicker than usual. In general, exposure to the sun can also cause us to get fatigued (even more!) and increase our joint pain. Checking our medications now and making sure our condition itself doesn’t create or exacerbate any of these issues is very important. If it does happen to be the case, wearing clothes that cover all exposed skin, a hat, and sunglasses that block out the UVA light when outside is very helpful; it’s also often a good idea to limit outside activities on particularly high UV days and times of day.
Bugs! Besides the obvious fact that most of us want to stay as far away from bugs as possible, there’s reason for extra caution when you have a chronic illness.
a. Ticks: Know the seasons and know your options for protection. Preventing tick encounters is ideal. If you do find you have a tick on you, carefully read the tick removal best practices and follow them to a “T.” Ticks bites can turn quite serious – the more we can prepare ourselves for preventing bites and in the unfortunate situation of getting one, on the proper removal, the better. Considering consulting with a doctor if a tick encounter happens is a great idea – it’s always better to catch these things early, just in case!
b. Mosquitoes: For many of us, even a mosquito bite can cause a flare up in our condition or stronger than typical inflammation at the site of the bite. Investigate what, if any, products can safely be used to protect against mosquito encounters. As far as non-personal application products, while citronella candles are often promoted as a mosquito repellent the validity of this is in dispute. However, lavender and peppermint smells are often touted as great scents to repel mosquitoes; bringing out lavender or peppermint smelling candles are a great alternate option to citronella candles. If anything, at least the area you are in will smell great! If you find you are in a mosquito heavy area though, it may be best to relocate to avoid any ill-effects from bites.
c. Other Bugs: Spider bites and other insects can present problems as well. Protecting ourselves when outdoors can be incredibly helpful but doesn’t always protect us completely. Those pesky bugs tend to find the one little exposed area of skin we may have in a given moment! If bitten and it looks like it may turn into something more than a typical bite, don’t hesitate to get it looked at. Quick detection can mean a lot!
Self-care! With the bright, sunny days, and warmer weather it can be compelling to want to go out and make the most of beautiful day. Often with summer, comes graduation parties, weddings, reunions, and family picnics. A lot of invites, some of which we may need to say no to or no to some parts of them. Key to all of this for each of us is remembering that it’s okay to say no. And no again! And again. It’s not something to feel guilty about but rather we should pride ourselves for putting ourselves first, which isn’t always easy.
Fun! The weather is going to be beautiful, the view from our front window is likely to brighten up with color, and there will be more opportunities to pick and choose from to participate in. So, while pacing and self-care is key, let’s also make sure to have some fun this summer too! Laugh with friends, enjoy the blossoming flowers, and partake in whatever activities our health permits.
While these tips just touch the surface, hopefully preparing for these potential triggers and situations can help minimize and prevent some flare-ups for us this summer. And… allow us to enjoy the beauty of the season, perhaps get out a bit more, socialize with friends on more occasions, or even quietly read a book on a shaded patio. After being cooped up in the house for so long during the colder weather, a few hours on the patio sounds like a dream.
Have a wonderful summer everyone!
P.S. Have more strategies? Please share them in the comments below!