Author: Brittany P. Male LCSW, CADC
The holidays are over, and if you're in the Midwest, the longest part of winter looms ahead of us. Snow covers the ground, chilling cold takes our breath away, and the outside is void of any remaining life. At the time of this blog being posted, Illinois is actually the coldest place on the planet. If we’re lucky, we’re warm inside our homes, under blankets, drinking warm beverages, and dreaming of warmer days. If you’re from the midwest, you’re also aware that although it may feel like this season will last forever---it won’t. We know that daylight will remain with us for longer and we’ll soon be enjoying the warm breeze as we sit outside sipping lemonade. We remain hopeful in winter, knowing that summer will return.
In the “winters” of our lives, it’s harder to remain optimistic. But if we look back at past evidence, we find similarities in these “winters.” Much like the changing seasons, the previous challenges we’ve experienced have passed, too, and we know that our present challenge will do the same. The “winters” of our lives, though they may feel like they last forever, thankfully do not.
The challenge that the winter brings also conditions us to tolerate its harsh conditions. The winter builds resilience in us and so do the challenges we face. The American Psychology Association (APA) defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress” (2019). Going into winter, we’re soft from summer’s sun and relaxing days. But winter hardens our skin and leaves us resilient and able to overcome adversity with greater strength than before. As spring approaches, winter has prepared us for future challenges. Have you ever wondered why when the weather begins to transition to spring we’re quick to forget our jackets and enjoy the sun even though the temperature may still only be in the 30’s? Just a few months prior, we ran back inside to grab our jackets at the same temperature. We gain resilience and determination in the cold. Somewhere between September and April, we find toughness.
Thankfully, everyone is capable of developing resiliency. When it comes to the challenges we face, the APA outlines 10 ways you can build resilience:
So if you’re finding yourself in the season of winter in your life, know that it is temporary. New growth will start, the softness and warmth of summer will soon be upon you and because of the winter, you will be ever more prepared for the next winter. As a bonus, you’ll be able to enjoy summer’s rays even more than you would have without your winter. You’re building resilience through this winter of your life. If you’re finding the present challenge you face, difficult to get through, don’t hesitate to call OakHeart and schedule an appointment to meet with one of our clinicians at (630) 570-0050.
American Psychological Association (APA). 2019. The Road to Resilience. https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx