If you’re living with fibromyalgia, you know that chronic widespread pain is a daily battle. Most patients also experience fatigue, mood disorders, and cognitive dysfunction known as “fibro fog.” In addition to all of these symptoms, cold intolerance is commonly reported among patients. Many people with fibromyalgia say they experience increased pain levels and depression during the winter months. Luckily, you don’t have to dread this time of year if you can make a few changes or additions to your daily routine. Here are some simple ways to warm up and feel better overall when you’re dealing with fibromyalgia and cold weather.

Why does my fibromyalgia get worse in winter?

When many people think of winter, they envision skiing, ice skating, or curling up by the fire with a good book. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case when you’re dealing with fibromyalgia and cold weather. Studies on the connection between fibromyalgia and weather are still somewhat unclear, but anecdotally, many patients suffer during colder months. Researchers have found no direct link between cold weather and increased fibro symptoms, though they have found that some patients are more sensitive to weather changes than others.

Many health professionals believe the worsening of symptoms could also be related to the fact that people are less active during the winter months. The cold keeps most of us indoors and away from exercise, which leads to a sort of physical de-conditioning. However, doctors do acknowledge that cold weather and drops in barometric pressure could also create stiffness or swelling in the joints.

While there isn’t definitive scientific evidence that suggests a strong pain correlation between fibromyalgia and winter, it remains a common challenge for many patients. The increase in pain, fatigue, and depression is a real issue for the 4 million in the U.S. who suffer from this condition. With this in mind, doctors continue to research the subject and search for natural forms of relief.

How to manage fibromyalgia and cold weather: 12 tips

We can’t stop the changing seasons, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through the winter months. Here are 12 tips to help you stay warm and comfortable when you’re battling fibromyalgia and feeling cold.

1. Choose soft, warm clothing

There are clothing choices you can make to prevent pain throughout the year, and winter is no exception. Fibromyalgia sufferers should look for soft clothes that are easy to put on, comfortable to wear, and simple to remove. This is the best way to combat the pain and stiffness that often comes with this condition.

In the winter, turn to ultra-soft fabrics, such as cashmere, fleece, and flannel. Warm, soft materials will keep you comfortable in cold conditions. But don’t forget to layer! Restaurants and even office buildings turn up the heat during this time of year. That means you could quickly feel hot while indoors. Layers will help you regulate your body temperature while you’re away from home.

2. Rely on heating pads

Heat can quickly relax muscles and put joint pain at ease. An electric heating pad will provide you with various levels of heat so you have more control over the temperature at all times. Some even include vibrati