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SUMMERTIME MS BLUES? TRY THESE COOL TIPS TO BEAT THE HEAT!

It's important to keep cool and treat yourself to some extra self-care at this time of year.

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We are now officially in the “dog days” of summer…the days with 90-plus temperatures and wicked humidity. With the exception of a day or so break here and there, this weather has been holding steady for the past 6 weeks.  And heat, humidity, and MS do NOT make good bedfellows.  Ugh.

The hot weather can leave those of us with MS feeling fatigued, weak, unwell, and “trapped” indoors.  To add insult to injury, we may feel lonely and left out of the summertime social life and activities that everyone else seems to be enjoying.  It’s important to keep ourselves cool and treat ourselves to some extra self-care at this time of year.

For me, the BS of MS has been raging for the past month or so…Familiar symptoms have been flaring, and brand new ones have shown up for the party as well.  This special “Summertime BS of MS” has inspired me to create and share this Rockstar Women With MS Summertime Tip Sheet with you (you can grab your own copy to download and print here).  It features some of the tips and tricks that I’m using to be kind to myself and get through the remainder of these “dog days.”  If you’ve been feeling “whupped” physically and emotionally by this summer weather, I hope that you will find these helpful (and even fun), too!

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ROCKSTAR WOMEN WITH MS SUMMERTIME TIP SHEET

1.  Cucumber Water

I’m starting with water not only because it’s crucial for us to stay hydrated, but also because we can have some true refreshment and fun (and even health benefits) with some twists on this essential staple:

I first had cucumber water at a downtown restaurant one summer about a decade ago, and it was—and still is—one of the most refreshing things I have ever tasted.  It also gives the added psychological and emotional boost of feeling a bit fancy and spa-like.  Simply slice a chilled cucumber (get a friend or family member to help you with this if you need assistance) and add it to chilled water. Cut lengthwise slices if you’d like a little more of an “upscale”-feeling effect for yourself or guests.  Leave it in the fridge overnight to produce a more flavorful brew.  Ahhh…perfect.

In addition to being super-refreshing and allowing you to feel a bit pampered, you’ll also get nutritional benefits from the naturally-hydrating cucumber such as anti-inflammatory properties, assistance in flushing toxins, and helping to keep skin and hair healthy.

2. Fresh Mint

My grandmother used to grow fresh mint in her backyard and I remember enjoying her iced tea with mint every summer as a child.  In fact, I didn’t know until I was a little older that people actually made summer iced tea WITHOUT fresh mint (!).

Adding fresh mint to water is a great way to create a cooling drink that aids in digestion, plus you also get the divine mood boost from the scent of the fresh mint leaves.  You can also add fresh mint to lemonade, iced tea, and summer salads.

3. Cool Fruits

Definitely include fruits that have a high water content in your summer diet to help you stay healthy as well as cool.  Examples are watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and citrus fruits.  These cool fruits help us to stay hydrated and contain important nutrients that keep us healthy and energized.  They can be eaten as-is or tossed into smoothies and salads.  Also try adding citrus fruits to your cucumber or mint water for a powerful detox drink that can help flush away toxins. 

And, let’s face it, the pretty colors of these cool fruits also lift the spirits.

4. Create Your Own DIY Spa

Treating yourself to occasional low-cost, natural Do-It-Yourself spa-type treatment is also a great way to relax and refresh yourself on hot days.  Give these ideas a try:

  • Soothing, Cooling Eye Treatment: While you’ve got the cucumbers out to make cucumber water, consider saving a couple of slices for a treatment to reduce puffy eyes.  Simply place the cucumber slices over your closed eyes, then lean back a bit and relax for 15 minutes.  The cucumber slices not only feel cooling on your skin, but help to reduce eye puffiness.  You can also achieve the same effect by using tea bags. Steep green or chamomile tea bags in boiling water and then let them cool in the fridge.  When they are cool, place one bag over each eye (as you would do with the cucumber slices) and relax for 15 minutes.
  • Strawberry Face Mask:  I first discovered the recipe for this cooling and beautifying mask somewhere online.  Slice and mash a couple of strawberries, and then add a spoonful of honey and a spoonful of plain yogurt (get a friend or family member to help you with this if you need assistance).  Mix it all together and then spread it onto your face as a mask.  Leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse it off to reveal softer, brighter skin.
  • Create a “Spa Zone”: Put on comfortable clothes or a robe, turn off the TV, and turn off the computer. Play relaxing music, treat yourself to some cool fruits, and sip on herbal iced tea or one of the cooling waters above to help create a relaxing “spa” mood to refresh yourself before, during, and after your natural DIY beauty treatments.  Indulge in the “spa zone” that you’ve created by relaxing, lounging, and enjoying a good nap.

5. Air Conditioning

It goes without saying, but air conditioning can definitely help beat the heat by lowering the temperature in our environment and reducing humidity (humidity is THE #1 trigger of pretty wicked spasticity in my legs).  It also goes without saying that air conditioning can be expensive. 

If you can afford it, definitely use it.  If you can’t afford it, look into options to help you with the cost.  Some utility companies may offer discounts if you have a note from your doctor.  MS organizations such as the National MS Society might be able to provide financial assistance or help you to find alternative solutions.  Air conditioners may also be covered by your health insurance or be tax-deductible for you, so find out whether that’s the case from your insurer and accountant.

6.  Cooling Products

Many cooling garments, wraps, inserts and other products are also available to help keep you from overheating during the summer.  You can research the many cooling product options online, get your doctors’ and physical therapists’ advice, and choose what you think might be best for you.  A good place to start is the article “A ‘cool’ product guide” located at http://www.momentummagazineonline.com/cool-product-guide/

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