In the Face of Adversity

The importance of resilience

Winter Cold

How to survive the winter doldrums.

In the last couple of weeks, the temperature has seldom gotten above freezing.  The other morning, when I struggled out to my car to head for work, the temperature was at a balmy -2°.  Northern Maine was having even a colder time.  Temperatures at night had dropped to 25 degrees below zero.  Add to that the wind and the wind chill, the temperature could be as low as 45 below.

It was the usual advice about dressing in layers and limiting the amount of time outside and being sure to cover all skin.  The basic advice was to stay inside,  that hibernation on such a day seemed like not a bad idea.

But even if you must stay inside on these cold, gray days, it would be a good idea to stay in touch with others.  Social media and the phone give us an opportunity to do just that.   To stay connected.  It is tempting to isolate, but not a good idea.

If you have a cold or the flu, you will find that the advice is often the same.  Stay home and avoid contact with others.  A good idea for not spreading the flu or infecting others, but a bad idea if you’re not feeling well.  Again, social media and the phone may come to the rescue.  But it may take more effort to do that text or to make that phone call, especially if you’re coughing your head off.  And, of course, you do need rest and fluids, but make the effort to be in touch with other people.  Feeling lousy and (not?) being with others can start us down the road to feeling pretty depressed.  Again, use the tools that you have to stay in touch, to communicate, to stay connected.

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And in addition to chicken soup, there are other things that may help you feel better.  You might just want to close those weary eyes for a few minutes and visualize yourself being in a nice, warm, comfortable environment a long way away from the cold and the snow.  Such fantasy can be helpful on a gray, wintery day.

And be optimistic.  This, too, will pass.  Spring will come, and you will recover from your flu or the cold most likely, although I am sure there are days when you’re not certain of this.  Keep things in perspective.  Having the flu doesn’t have to ruin everything.  It’s only a cold.  Using positive self-talk to keep things in perspective is a good idea.

Last of all, don’t blame yourself or anyone else.  Sure, maybe next year you need to get the flu shot and maybe you need to be more careful about washing your hands, etc., etc.  And don’t blame the weatherman.  He or she has absolutely nothing to do with it.  They’re just the bearers of bad news.

So stay connected, complain about how bad you feel, be optimistic, get some rest and fantasize about a warmer place, and keep drinking those fluids.

Ron Breazeale, Ph.D., is the author of Duct Tape Isn’t Enough: Survival Skills for the 21st Century as well as the novel Reaching Home.

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