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Winter, Stress, and Finding Light

All fall I have had a knot in my stomach about what the coming of winter will mean for all of us living in the northern part of the country. “Sheltering in Place” had so many challenges in March, April, and May, however it also had some sweet times as life slowed down in the spring of the year where so much of God’s creation was waking up, blooming, laying eggs, and having babies. Then as we moved into summer we found ways to connect outside. We would gather around a campfire or bring a picnic and talk with family or friends at a park. Even solitary walks on a warm summer night were good for my soul. Now as the first, early, snow falls outside my window I wonder how we will find mental health in a time where mental health is a much harder struggle for many without a pandemic.

For those of us who have dealt with anxiety or depression, the medical information about how our brains are affected by stress isn’t news. Yet, how do you keep up with exercise, meditation and mindfulness, relationships, and learning something new when the darkness and the cold make it easier to curl up with a blanket and pretend that everything happening “out there” isn’t real.

"We, as humans, like to have the idea that we are in control of our minds and that stress isn't a big deal," Love says. "But it's simply not true." (Dr. Jennifer Love, a California-based psychiatrist and co-author of an upcoming book on how to heal from chronic stress.)

How do we move forward into a winter full of COVID statistics and so much unknown? What are your fears? Where have you found some light? How have you been moving through? Or has it been more like slogging?

Yoga and prayer/meditation have been grounding me throughout the last 7 months. As I am developing my spiritual direction practice I am looking for ways that are easy to incorporate and life-giving in this time to give some of the skills that this article talks about. Watch for some of my ideas about small group prayer/mediation online via Facebook live or small group check-in on the order of group spiritual direction via a virtual platform. If you think something like this might be for you email me and I will send you more information. Or watch the website and social media.

Click here to read the full article from NPR.


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