The holidays seem like a blur to me. Festive, family, togetherness, and joy overload but then it ended just as quickly as it began. I think we should definitely extend the feeling, melodies, and good will throughout the year because to me, when the joy leaves so suddenly, the stark essence of the emptiness can be very disconcerting.
I recently read in a human resource blog that winter weather can be a healing time. The cold crisp air and the falling snow not only paint a Rockwellesque portrait and ambiance, but it's known to dull our senses and lull us into calmness. I suppose that doesn't account for those with severe weather or exacerbated illnesses or tragic accidents. NO, I'm sure they were excluded from those studies. Also excluded would have been those with the current virulent strains of FLU, RSV. NOROVIRUS and COVID-19. I'm not trying to dissuade you from the research, just pointing out some populations were missed.
Winter is a season of solace and comfort where we get to bury all our negativity and things that are weighing us down.
OK let's be real though. I asked my family and friends - they said - they either love, really secretly hate, or are just coasting through Winter. How about you? Additionally, a common theme was "Once the holidays are over and you get one good snow fall, what's left to look forward to?"
Cold weather can seem endless for those who are battling low blood pressure, bronchitis, asthma, lupus, fibromyalgia, migraines, osteoporosis, recovery from fractures and post surgery; COPD, Long COVID, immunosuppression, and even dementia. Those of us aging with HIV may very well fall into this category. I definitely do!
HOWEVER - ALL IS NOT LOST - DON'T BE A DEBBIE DOWNER ON FROSTY AND FRIENDS - I have a bit of good news for all of us who maybe can't really enjoy winter and the weather the way our non-HIV or younger counterparts can with such gusto!
Now, It does require a bit of a mindshift: mental health experts also propose that winter is a season of solace and comfort where we get to bury all our negativity and things that are weighing us down.
That is music to my ears! I needed to hear more... so I learned that...
It's time to simply unpack our burdens and lay them to rest. Put them on ice so to speak. No matter where you live metaphorically, we all need a break and a reset. In fact it's proven that we should take breaks every quarter (every three months) - it's healthier for us!
Changing our mindset to use the winter months as literal rest and mental hibernation gives us the emotional and physical strength to emerge as the HIV leaders ... we are in the New Spring.
Winter with its bleakness and graying allows us to do that internally and existentially. With practice, one can prepare for the season so that the advent of its coming sees us in anticipation, ready to free our hearts, minds and souls.
Adding in the soulful practice of daily gratitude in journaling or prayer, no matter how small the thought, begins to lay the foundation for our biggest personal internal reward as we wait for the season of renewal to come upon us in the Spring.
Just as the cold earth will once again feel alive, capable of soaking in nutrients with growth and life, so too will we be able to once again - plan, do, experience and have hope.
Changing our mindset to use the winter months as literal rest and mental hibernation gives us the emotional and physical strength to emerge as the HIV leaders and empowered consumers we are in the New Spring.
With this in mind, truth is, I no longer look forlorn as the holiday decorations get put away or the skies turn grey. I feel silently energized to do my daily work in silence with purpose because I know that my life matters. I know that this moment is mine to enjoy and to explore in its uniqueness because I don't need to run and hide. I know that out there, no matter how far across an icy land, I am never alone. I can make this a time of peaceful unloading, a break I definitely deserve. You do too.
Hope you try it!
Until next time!