Winter and Wellness

I imagine most of us are ready for spring. After ice storms and blizzards, extended cold and shortened days, the ability to be outside without suffering through perishingly cold winds is very appealing. So, we dream of warmer days with longer daylight. We look at pictures of verdant green fields and imagine the taste of garden vegetables. Even though we know that winter won’t last forever, there’s a part of us that isn’t able to translate that head-knowledge into something our hearts can understand. The waiting takes a toll. Add in COVID worries, economic uncertainty, and the pressures that the nightly news subjects us to every evening, and you have a recipe for struggle.

If you’re feeling blue in the bleak midwinter, know that you’re not alone. Some of it is biological. Sunlight is good for our bodies and our spirits. Nobody likes having cabin fever, particularly as so many of our social coping tools have been blunted by physical distancing. This particular year, I think it bears saying that if you’re having a difficult time with things, there is likely good reason. One of our police supervisors told me that this past year, mental health calls doubled in the city. When things start to stack up, often the process is incremental and we don’t notice it until it takes us by surprise. Sometimes our stress comes out sideways, like eating too much or sleeping too little.

One of the things that all the churches in our town would agree upon is that you are a human being, of great value, for whom God cares very much. You are worth taking care of and nurturing. If you’re going through difficult times, know that underneath everything going on there is inside you a goodness that is a blessing to the world. In the midst of this cold world of ours, sometimes it takes a little bit of work and a little bit of help to get that goodness to catch fire, but it is always there and can never be taken away. That little light of yours matters in this world.

Another thing all the churches would likely agree about is that our choices matter. If you’re in the midst of some difficult times, one of the best choices you can make is to reach out to somebody you trust. For some reason, our first instinct as human beings is to try to slog through when we aren’t able to perfectly fix our own problems. Yet, none of us has all the answers. We all need help, now and then. Mental health, like physical health, ebbs and flows. If it’s a tough year, it’s never too late to reach out to talk. Your pastor, your doctor, your friends probably would all welcome an opportunity to be a listening ear. In the midst of these dog-days of winter, those people might be able to remind you that warmer, pleasanter times are indeed on the way.