Will this winter be a catastrophe or a challenge?

Winter. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

How will the coronavirus and potential lockdowns affect you?

For many people, winter is a challenge every year. But this year, it’s likely to be a tough challenge. Coronavirus has had a horrific impact on our society. How long this will go on and how it will affect you is probably outside your control. But how it affects you mentally, there may be something you can do about that.

Currently, there’s a glimmer of hope. Over the long haul, one or more of the vaccines now in development may prove to be the solution to our coronavirus problem. But even if the vaccine works perfectly, it will be a long time until enough vaccine doses become available and enough people are vaccinated to have any impact on the prevalence of the illness. Until then, life can be a challenge.

Depending on where you live, you probably experienced one or more lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, or disruptions in your job or education. Some people would prefer the option of going ahead with their life knowing there’s a chance they will catch the infection and either die or pass it on to someone close to them.

Other people would prefer to hunker down, isolate as much as possible, and ride out the viral storm waiting for safer days. Regardless of your preference, some things are going to change. Some of these changes will be severe short-term losses for some and minor inconveniences for others. Other changes may be permanent. Businesses have closed, and more will close. Many jobs have been lost. Some will return, but other jobs may never come back. People have died. More and more of us know someone who has lost a family member.

I believe that some of these changes we’re seeing will turn out to be permanent long-term changes. The coronavirus has just accelerated the rapid pace of change. The trend toward online education was already well underway, with some colleges offering their entire curriculum as online classes. In the future, I think working from home and learning at home are going to be long term trends. These are things we may just have to get used to.

But between now and the time we reach our new normal, we will face some extraordinary challenges.

The challenge of seasonal affective disorder.

A significant portion of the population typically suffers from seasonal affective disorder. While we often think of this as seasonal depression, commonly called winter blues, there are also seasonal increases in anxiety disorders, OCD, and other mental illnesses.

Changes in the weather, especially changes in the amount of daylight each day appear to naturally alter human being’s moods. The large number of holidays during the winter may be an effort for us, humans, to cheer ourselves up during an inhospitable time of year.

What if our attitude toward the winter season is an important factor?

Not everyone, everywhere, seems to experience seasonal affective disorder. This article in the Guardian shows us another way to look at challenging circumstances.

If you approach the winter season with the attitude that it will be difficult, you’re predisposed to negative mood states. But if you take a different view toward it and view the winter season as another situation full of possibilities, you may experience a different set of feelings.

When it comes to mood, your mindset matters.

How you think about things alters their effect on you. The way you look at things can affect your mental health and your physical health. Your attitude affects your blood pressure and heart rate. People who think of things as catastrophic and tell themselves that this thing mustn’t, shouldn’t, happen experience it is much more negative than those who see the event as an opportunity.

Is it a threat or an opportunity?

How you approach things often depends on the resources you have available. By resources, I don’t mean just financial ones. Education, available opportunities, and your support system, can also alter the way you view challenging circumstances. Having a good support system, developing coping skills, and improving your resiliency all buffer you against stressful times.

Telling yourself, you’re excited reduces anxiety.

Many people experience having to make a speech in public as terrifying. Public speaking is the number one fear in America. And yet, other people enjoy speaking in public. If you are terrified of getting up on stage, becoming an entertainer will probably be a highly stressful career. But if you love the applause of the crowd, you won’t experience it as anxiety-provoking but as energizing.

Some athletes become anxious before competing, and they are at high risk of choking. But those athletes who interpret those butterflies in their stomachs as excitement can use that energy to propel them to even more remarkable achievements.

Planning positive activities reduces the impact of challenges.

Whatever your challenges this winter, and many of us will face a great many challenges, plan for some positive activities. Those little bits of pleasure and happiness, you should pay attention to them when you find them. Amid all the struggles, you should plan on becoming a happiness expert.

Admittedly the winter ahead will not be easy. There will be costs, and there will be losses. Let’s all keep our eyes peeled for the pockets of happiness ahead.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

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